Case study - Uttarakhand disaster

By Elma Elza Thomas


  • Uttarakhand has an area of 53484 km sq. of which 93% is mountain and 63% is covered by forest
  • Most of Uttarakhand is covered by Himalayan peaks and glaciers.
  • It is well known as the "Land of the Gods".
  • It is considered as one of the most beautiful state.

Reasons for the disaster

Natural reasons....

  • The rainfall was above benchmark which is above 375%
  • A multi-day cloudburst, centered on the state caused devastating floods and landslides.
  • Due to continuous rain the Chorabari glacier melted and this triggered the flooding of the Mandakini river, which led to the flooding of the near by districts.

Man made reasons....

  • The true reasons of this epic tragedy is growth of tourism, unchecked rapid increase of roads, hotels, shops and multistory buildings in ecologically fragile area and unplanned construction are the reason for landslide.
  • Rapid growth of hydroelectricity dams disturb the balance of water.
  • Deforestation is also the most important factor for the disaster of Utarakhand.

Severely damaged places and its significance

Gangotri- Sri Gangotri is a vital destination of the complete Char Dham Tour, which is magnificently surrounded by the incredible mountain ranges of Shivaling, Bhagirathi sisters and Satopanth. Gangotri is considered as the most significant wonder of Char Dham. The snow peaked mountains, flourishing green vegetation, dense forest and beautiful climatic conditions. The devotees thoroughly enjoy their trips to Gangotri as they feel something heavenly about the place and the aarti done so intense that makes you feel incarnated.

Badrinath- Badrinath is considered to be the seat of the god Vishnu in his aspect of Badrinarayan. The term Badri means berries and nath refers to Vishnu. It is said that Goddess Lakshmi took form of berries to protect Lord Vishnu from harsh climate during his penance. It has been eulogised as Bhu Vaikunta or earthly abode of Lord Vishnu. Many religious scholars such as Ramanujacharya, Madhawacharya and Vedanta Desika visted this place and wrote sacred texts like commentaries on Brahmasutras and other Upanishads here.

Kedarnath - Kedarnath is one of the most important Hindu shrines with great mythological importance. It is mentioned in epics and many other religious scriptures with great reverence and is considered as a spot for salvation.

Hemkund- Hemkunt Sahib (Hindi: हेमकुडं साहिब, Punjabi: ਹੇਮਕੁੰਟ ਸਾਹਿਬ) with a setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven peaks, is a popular site for Sikhs for its claimed historical connection. It is located in the Himalayas at an elevation of over 15,200 ft (4,600 m) in Uttarakhand state of India, and accessible only by foot from Govindghat on Rishikesh-Badrinath highway.

Roopkund- Roopkund, situated at a height of 4778 mtr above sea-level in the lap of the Trisul Massif (7122 mtr), is usually referred to as the “Mystery Lake” because of the mystery surroundings the human skeletons and remains of horses found around it. Opinions are divided on the origin of these skeletons. Some believe that they are the skeletons of General Jorawar’s soldiers who died here on a mission to Tibet, but this argument is diluted by the fact that the soldiers had no reason to go up to this height, and more so because Roopkund does not fall on the route to Tibet. Others are of the opinion that the skeletons are those of zealous pilgrims who, about 200 years ago, went on the famous Raj Jat Yatra and perished due to inclement weather. This line of thinking looks closer to facts.

Gaurikund- Gaurikund is the trekking base to Kedarnath Temple, one of the holiest among the Char Dham Temples as well as one of the 12 Jyothirlinga shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. Gaurikund or Gauri Kund, located at an altitude of 1981 m (6498 ft) from sea level, is 5 km from Soneprayag (Son Prayag) and 220 km from Rishikesh. From Gaurikund Chardham yatris need to trek 14 km to reach Kedarnath Temple.

Jyotirmath- Jyotirmath, also known as Joshimath is a city and a municipal board in Chamoli District in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Located at a height of 6150 feet,[1] it is gateway to several Himalayan mountain climbing expeditions, trekking trails and pilgrim centres like Badrinath.[2] It is home to one of the four cardinal pīthas established by Adi Shankara.

Rescue operation

  • The Army, Air force, Navy, ITBP, NDRF, Public work department, Border security force and Local administration worked together for quick rescue operation.
  • Several solider were deployed for the rescue mission.
  • ITBP jawans distributed medicine to standard pilgrims.
  • Local people distributed food to rescued pilgrims near IAF camp base in Dharasu.
  • The army has deployed 10000 soliders and 11 helicopters; the Navy has sent 45 naval drivers, and the Air force deployed 43 aircraft including 36 airoplane.
  • The IAF airlifted a total of 18424 people- flyong a total of 2137 stories and drop landing a total of 336930 kg of relief material and equipment.
  • PM of India undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas and announced 1000 crore aid package.
  • Wood has been bought to the site with helicopters for the funeral of the people who died in the disaster
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