Tag Archives: Flood

Uttarakhand Floods: Nature’s Fury or Have We Dug Our Own Graves? – Part V

In the fifth part of the series, Chandan Das explores the farce behind the flood control measures, which eventually led to this large scale disaster!

That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind. – William Wordsworth

agri_majorareas_disastermgt_flood_clip_image001

PLAN YOUR “PLANS”!!

The National Flood Control Programme was launched in 1954. After the 1970s – a decade that saw the worst floods – this spending gradually declined to a low of 5.5 percent in the decade between 2000-2010.The rupees not spent on flood control have meant gigantic national losses!

In 1976, the Government of India set up the National Flood Commission (Rashtriya Barh Ayog) “to evolve a coordinated, integrated and scientific approach to the flood control problems in the country and to draw out a national plan fixing priorities for implementation in the future.” That a large number of agencies in our country are still mentioning the Barh Ayog’s data in their diagnostic statements is an ominous reminder that our level of preparedness is somewhat low!

According to the annual report of Ganga Flood Control Commission (2010-11),  Uttarakhand was allocated a budget of Rs 280 crore, but ironically, the flood management plans ignored the issues of deforestation and environmental devastation!

The report of the 12th Five-Year Plan working group on ‘Flood Management and Region Specific Issues’, shows Uttarakhand’s flood vulnerabilities. Until March 2011, it included the coverage of 2000 hectares, compared to 18000 hectares in Himachal Pradesh. The state has created 9 km of embankment, a fraction of the 159.16 km completed in Himachal Pradesh; it has no drainage channels, whereas Himachal has constructed 11 km. While 82 Himachal villages were protected through the raising of the ground level, none of the villages in Uttarakhand received such protection. In fact, the state government needed Rs. 600 crore for relocating all the villagers, but had only Rs. 50 lakh in their kitty. The Central Government doesn’t mind giving 1000 crore today though (you must be kidding me now !!)

So was it just a nature’s fury or have we dug our own graves?

Flood-India-Source

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Uttarakhand Floods: Nature’s Fury or Have We Dug Our Own Graves? – Part IV

Chandan Das wonders about the reason due to which we were not able to take requisite action despite Nature giving us timely warnings, in the fourth part of the Uttarakhand Floods series.

“For I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity.” – William Wordsworth

cloud-burst

UTTARAKHAND is PRONE to Natural Disasters: So what?

Ok I agree to the fact that the very nature of topographical, geological, geomorphological and seismic situation in Uttarakhand makes it prone to large kinds of disasters. It is part of young Himalayan mountain, prone to landslides, erosion and flash floods.  And this is not something new. Similar disasters have been found in other countries like China, Italy & USA and even in UTTARAKHAND, the Asiganga hydropower project had played a key role in the Uttarkashi disaster a couple of years ago. I mean you cannot avert a cloudburst, but you can certainly reduce the damage!

Not that Mother Nature did not give any timely warnings. Through the years, since the 1991 Uttarkashi earthquake that left nearly 2,000 dead and thousands without shelter in the Himalayan state, there have been several warnings, such as abnormal rise in temperature, reoccurring landslides, cloud bursts and flash floods in vast regions of Tehri, Pauri, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Almora. The headlines three years ago were similar: ‘flash floods leave North India in deep trouble’ and ‘flood, rain, wreak havoc in North India’. The monsoon of 2010 brought with it such massive losses of lives, property, crops and infrastructure that the state said its development clock had been set back by a decade!! In August 2012, buildings were washed away by Uttarkashi flash floods. Immediately after that, the Uttarakhand government report actually asked for a legislation and its strict implementation to ensure that no construction, including roads are allowed next to the river. As per official records, 233 villages were marked  disaster-prone and could face Uttarkashi-like situation any moment. Sadly, two months later, a cloudburst in Rudraprayag had claimed 69 lives (the very same place where the Disaster started).

uttarkashi_cloudburst_295It may be some consolation that nature’s fury is not well handled even by some of the most advanced industrial societies, as demonstrated by Hurricane Sandy in New York last year and Katrina earlier. But we should at least try and be prepared by rechecking urban water draining infrastructure lest we suffer due to the monsoon that is in fact our saviour. But nobody, barring a handful of environmentalists, ecologists and local people, paid heed to the warnings. A place that is prone to disasters because of fast-occurring climate change should be guarded with utmost sensitivity towards ecology and environment, but the administration closed its eyes to all illegal constructions!!

So was it just a nature’s fury or have we dug our own graves ?

Garhwal Diaries 10 – Enroute Rishikesh

The drive was long from Sitapur to Rishikesh. It was Monsoons so splashes of rains accompanied us every now and then. And then there were landslides. Yes. Here are a few snaps:

IMG_0315Snapshots on my way

IMG_0319Random shots

IMG_0323Landslide captured from the car

IMG_0322A closer look at the landslide

IMG_0331Road blocked due to landslide

Uttarakhand: Water, Water Everywhere…

Floods and landslides have wrought havoc in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Submerged houses, floating buildings and corpses gives the feel of the D-Day! Here are some images of the flood which evokes pathos and fear.

flood 1Rishikesh: There couldn’t have been greater irony! The Lord of Destruction, too, caught up in the midst of  destruction and devastation.

flood 2Houses partially submerged due to the torrential downpour!

flood 3

People remove their furniture from their homes as the water level rises.

flood 4Army swings into action for relief from flood.

flood 5Dehradun: Houses partially submerged in the flood water

flood 6

Buildings topple into the river and is washed away by the current.