Reasons for the disaster....
Sunday, July 14th 2013 at 3:15pm
In June 2013, a multi-day cloudburst centered on the North Indian state of Uttarakhand 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
Natural OR Manmade REASONS ??!!
- Early monsoon: The early onset of monsoon caught people unawares (hence causing significant damage to life and property), but there is no plausible reason for the earliness of monsoon to have intensified the floods.
- Extreme rainfall event: High rainfall magnitudes are not very rare in Uttarakhand. While we have not analysed the data, rainfall in the affected districts does not seem to have been so high as to suggest an exceptionally rare event.
- Widespread rains: The rainfall events before and during the above floods occurred widely over the catchments of Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and other rivers, thereby sending high runoff into these rivers. But such widespread rains in these regions are also not as exceptional as the flood fury suggests.
- Heavy rains at the start of monsoon: It seems to us that heavy rains rarely occur in Uttarakhand at the very start of monsoon. Usually, the rains are relatively light and scattered at first, before increasing in magnitude and spread after 2 or 3 weeks. In the present case, however, the monsoons entered the State with a bang, which may have been a factor that intensified the floods. This is because rains cause landslides/landslips due to unstable slopes and loose rocks/boulders, which tend to (partially) block the stream paths; and when these blockages get blown away, the dammed up water disgorges with high flood peaks. Thus, whereas in previous years minor landslides would occur at the start of monsoon, and their blockages get dismantled before the onset of heavy rains, in the present case both minor and major landslides would have occurred simultaneously in mid-June, thereby producing dam-burst like floods.