Flood In Uttarkhand On June 2013

BY N.JAYGOVINDHAN

INTRODUCTION

In June 2013, a multi-day cloudburst centered on the North Indian state of Uttarkhand caused devastating floods and landslides in the country's worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami. Though some parts of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana , Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in India experienced the flood, some regions of Western Nepal, and some parts of Western Tibet also experienced heavy rainfall, over 95% of the casualties occurred in Uttarakhand. As of 16 July 2013, according to figures provided by the Uttarakhand government, more than 5,700 people were "presumed dead." This total included 934 local residents. Destruction of bridges and roads left about 100,000 pilgrims and tourists trapped in the valleys leading to three of the four Hindu Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. The Indian Air Force, the Indian Army, and paramilitary troops evacuated more than 110,000 people from the flood ravaged area.

Some reasons for the disaster

From 14 to 17 June 2013, the Indian state of Uttarakhand and adjoining areas received heavy rainfall, which was about 375% more than the benchmark rainfall during a normal monsoon. This caused the melting of Chorabari Glacier at the height of 3800 metres, and eruption of the Mandakini River which led to heavy floods near Gobindghat, Kedar Dome, Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Western Nepal, and acute rainfall in other nearby regions of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Tibet.

The upper Himalayan territories of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are full of forests and snow-covered mountains and thus remain relatively inaccessible. They are home to several major and historic Hindu and Sikh pilgrimage sites besides several tourist spots and trekking trails. Heavy rainfall for four consecutive days as well as melting snow aggravated the floods. Warnings by the India Meteorological Department predicting heavy rains were not given wide publicity beforehand, causing thousands of people to be caught unaware, resulting in huge loss of life and property.

Some of the pictures caught during the flood and after the flood

Steps taken by the government

The Prime Minister of India undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas and announced 10 billion (US$170 million) aid package for disaster relief efforts in the state.Several state governments announced financial assistance, with Uttar Pradesh pledging 250 million (US$4.2 million), the governments of Haryana, Maharashtra and Delhi 100 million (US$1.7 million) each, the governments of Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh 50 million (US$840,000) each. The US Ambassador to India extended a financial help of USD $150,000 through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the NGOs working in the area. and announced that the US will provide further financial aid of USD $75,000.

The Government of India also cancelled 9 batches, or half the annual batches of the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra, a Hindu pilgrimage. The Chardham Yatra pilgrimage, covering Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath was cancelled for 2 years to repair damaged roads and infrastructure, according to the Uttarakhand Government.

Government agencies and priests of Kedarnath temple were planning mass cremation of the hundreds of victims, after one week of tragedy. Local youths from several affected villages near Gangotri helped stranded tourists and pilgrims, by sending messages to their places and by providing food. Rescuers also retrieved approximately 10 million (US$170,000) and other jewellery from local persons, including some people dressed like sadhu babas, who reportedly collected it from a destroyed building of a Bank and damaged shops.

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