Uttarakhand Disaster:A Wake-up Call

The flood that almost took out Uttarakhand.

Big image

Reasons of the disaster.

Media reports say nearly 60 persons have died in Uttarakhand, and an estimated 60,000 pilgrims are stranded. Heavy rainfall has wreaked havoc on the region because of the fragile nature of the Himalayan range and poor soil stability in its steep slopes. But it is man-made factors that have compounded the scale of the disaster. Unabated expansion of hydro-power projects and construction of roads to accommodate ever-increasing tourism, especially religious tourism, are also major causes for the unprecedented scale of devastation, say experts.

Regions severely affected by the flood.

Of all the affected areas, Kedarnath was the worst hit. Apparently, the major cause of the unprecedented devastation was the crumbling of the Kedar Dome, a glacier-like body of rock and ice. This breaking of this enormous ‘glacier’ following the cloudburst and the eventual landslides caused a major rupture in the Charbari Lake that is situated just over 5 km from the holy temple of Kedarnath, situated at an altitude of 3600 mt. Kedarnath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and situated near the Mandakini River in a valley of the Garhwal Himalayas, was constructed in the 8th century and folklore has it that Adi Shankaracharya oversaw the building of the shrine.

Steps taken by the government.

Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna announced setting up of a statutory body ‘Uttarakhand Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority' that will be entrusted with the task of rebuilding the hill state.The Chief Minister, while addressing a press conference, said that higher rate of compensation will be given for sugarcane farmers, adding, "Rs 500 each will be given to students in the affected families." The state government also completely banned any kind of construction on the banks of a river passing through the state. Among various steps taken by the government to help those affected by the natural calamity, the CM said, "Free ration will be given to villages where connectivity has not been restored yet." Power bills have been waived off for affected families and the state government has decided to compensate owners of all commercial establishments, from small dhaba vendors to big hotels that were hit by torrential rains, flash floods and landslides, the Uttarakhand CM said.

Steps taken by the local community.

To provide relief to thousands of people affected by the disaster in Uttarakhand, several city-based NGOs and individuals are coming forward to help those who are still stuck there. City-based NGO Shiv Parvati Sewa Dal is sending relief in the form of food and water. The NGO has set up its base at Satsang Bhawan in Sector 26 for packing and loading the material to be sent in trucks. The relief process started on Friday and the organisers said it would continue till adequate help is required. The organisers told Suday Newsline that four trucks have already been sent to Dehradun after which the army would deploy the relief in Uttarakhand. Awareness about the project is being spread by members of the NGO and the media.