Tag Archives: Kedarnath

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

In the last part of the series, Chandan Das elaborates on the reason why he feels that human beings have dug their own graves. He also highlights the hypocrisies that we indulge in the name of the Almighty!

“The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality.”
William Wordsworth

ITBP rescue people

In case you learn, will you implement it?

Today, we’ve dug our own graves. Landslides and flash floods are not something new in the hilly state of Uttarakhand, more so in the recent times. Rescue operations are on but it is never easy to undertake such task in challenging terrains and adverse weather conditions.  After the deluge retreats, Uttarakhand will have to pick up the pieces. So can we implement the following?

  • Impose high environmental tax on visitors, particularly during summer and monsoon months
  • Inform public needs about their seminal role in mitigating disaster.
  • Define Disaster Management Plan, with standard operating procedures that would kick in when there is either warning of incidence of disaster.
  • Credible cumulative impact assessment
  • Proper functioning drainage system
  • Secured or relocate all vulnerable buildings away from rivers.
  • Impose penalties on building structures within 200 metres of river banks.
  • Hydropower policy considering building fewer dams and prioritise those that have the least environmental and social costs.
  • Independent and serious monitoring of the catchment area treatment plans.
  • Credible warning and forecasting mechanism
  • Proper weather forecast mechanism
  • Review of ongoing development works and scrap those that are going to increase the disaster and damage potential.
  • Assess buildings and hotels in the river bed and phase them out before next monsoon, assess other risky structures.
  • Accelerated use and wider application of geospatial mapping technology.
  • Enhancement of the Bhuvan platform – our own version of Google Earth.
  • Strict regulation of land use – critically, the avoidance of occupancy for agriculture and human settlement in river beds, drains and canals.
  • Heavily sizing down pilgrim numbers in fragile areas.

Well for the implementation of this , all that is needed is a “ Man Made” will power, not the Nature’s fury, isn’t it ?

Where has the Humanity gone?

Right now as I write this, the stories of those on the lookout for their kith and kin lost in flood-hit areas are bone-chilling. People are facing harrowing experience and staying without light, food and drinking water.

Sample this:

# Half a bucket of hot water sold for Rs 40/-

# Hotels booked for Rs 300 started charging Rs 3000/-

# Paratha 180/-

# Water bottles at Rs100/- a piece

# Per rice bowl Rs.500/-

# Rs 200 for a Rs 5/- biscuit packet

Oh, do you want to hear more?? A stranded woman tourist and her daughter were raped and murdered in Gaurikund area of Kedarnath valley. Some criminals reportedly murdered three brothers — all mule traders — in the same area and looted Rs. 17 lakh from them.

Now, when you commit sins like this on a land which is called DEVBHOOMI, do you expect the NATURE to not be angry? Oh yeah , when the HUMAN BEING digs his own grave,  NATURE will obviously show its fury!!

A deeply anguished, sad UTTARAKHANDI!!

Uttarakhand flood

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

Chandan Das delves into the fact that in an agricultural economy where early monsoons should come as a pleasant surprise, catches us unprepared — despite all the warnings!

 Ah, what a warning for a thoughtless man, Could field or grove, could any spot of earth, Show to his eye an image of the pangs Which it hath witnessed,-render back an echo Of the sad steps by which it hath been trod! – William WordsworthUttarakhand-Landslide-Calamity-1024x568

Development?? Uttarakhand is a DECADE back now!!

Till early 1980s, there were just a few hutments at the base of Kedarnath. The developments around the Kedarnath shrine may not be considered ‘urban’, but they have typically urban characteristics: density, haphazard construction with lightweight materials and large paved areas. In its Guidelines for Management of Urban Flooding, 2010, the NDMA observes that “urbanisation leads to developed catchments, which increases the flood peaks from 1.8 to 8 times and flood volumes by up to 6 times.” While official estimates say forest cover has increased in the Himalayas, a number of credible independent studies have found significant discrepancies in this claim. The fact is that forests have been diverted for a host of land use activities, such as agriculture, human settlements and urbanisation. Indiscriminate development in the hill towns, mushrooming guest houses, hotels and all manners of illegal encroachment taking place along the rivers, it was just a disaster waiting to happen !!

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

The Sleepy “Predictions”

Yeah, it is true that the monsoon rains arrived unexpectedly early, and the precipitation was four times the normal in a space of a very few days. The latter aspect would have made relief and rescue difficult, and there might have been a big toll of life and property in any case. A surprise early monsoon should be welcome news for much of the subcontinent, whose mainly agricultural economy is dependent on the rains, but not if it catches us unprepared — despite all the warnings! The “argument” is that a low pressure system over Chhattisgarh interacted with a wes­tern disturbance to bring unprecede­n­ted rainfall almost a fortnight to a month early (c’mon guys give me a break!!). The fact remains that each year rains have the same catastrophic effect on many urban centers mainly because our civic infrastructure is incapable of handling the first downpour, let alone what follows . Not that our major metropolises were much better prepared: we could see what flooding did to life in Mumbai or to Delhi airport’s swanky T3 terminal!!

But the point is why the www.imd.gov.in could not see it coming? Why don’t we have credible weather stations? What responsibility and accountability the Central Water Commission, the State Disaster Department & the Ministry of Environment and Forest have? I am not even too sure that the Indian Meteorological Department had given any warning of the impending disaster and, if so, whether the warnings were given in time for the civil administration to alert people and take steps to minimise the damage. Today, the Met office is passing the buck by saying the state government had been warned about torrential rains on Friday night. Even if local administration had understood the implications of meteorological data, it didn’t have much time to put out effective warnings across a state where 65% of the area is under forests. Wanna hear a joke?  The met office, with its weather satellites and multiple equipment upgrades, hasn’t been able to demonstrate any measurable improvement in its predictions over the years!!

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

india-flood-boy-horizontal-gallery

Garhwal Diaries 14 – Haridwar

Haridwar, one of the holiest Indian cities in India, is a world unto itself. According to Hindu Mythology, Haridwar is one of the four sites where drops of Amrit (the elixir of immortality) fell while Garuda was carrying the same in a pitcher. It is also one of the cities where the Maha Kumbh Mela is held. The photographs below have been clicked on the ghat of Har ki Pauri. For the rest, I will let the photos speak.

IMG_0429Har ki Pauri – Sepia Tuned

IMG_0430The clock tower

IMG_0431The flowing water

IMG_0428A submerged foot

287253_289951051019059_373603484_oShackles amidst flowing life

Garhwal Diaries 13 – Moments Captured on a Day Trip Through Rishikesh

Some more moments at Rishikesh depicted through these random clicks:

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IMG_0400This is the Chotiwala restaurant, a famous food joint that is over 50 years old. Sumptuous vegetarian delicacies are offered here.

IMG_0415The Chotiwala himself!

IMG_0411

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Garhwal Diaries 12 – Rishikesh Retro Riviera

Some moments captured within a span of 24 hours in Rishikesh – the gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas.

IMG_0380A bird in the eye

IMG_0381Painted Bark

IMG_0383The Bridge

IMG_0394Ray of Hope

IMG_0389Still Life

Garhwal Diaries 11 – A Day at Devprayag

I waited for more that 2 hours on the road. But when the authorities declared that it will almost the entire evening for the roads to be cleared, I decided to return to Devaprayag for a night halt.

One of the five Prayags, Devaprayag is the Confluence of Alkananda and Bhagirathi.

I put up in a motel for the night. I must say it was a welcome break. Especially keeping in mind the view from the motel balcony.

IMG_0228A bend in the river

IMG_0334Bend Captured from the Motel Balcony

devprayagThe Confluence

IMG_0344Chai with Choco Pie

IMG_0353Vegetable Garden at the Backyard

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