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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

Bludgeoned By Water

A calamity tests the mettle of the people of the hills, the faith of pilgrim-tourists

Bludgeoned By Water
AFP (From Outlook 01 July 2013)
Bludgeoned By Water
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

‘Himalayan Tsunami’

A natural disaster but a man-made catastrophe

How everybody looked the other way

  • Meteorological Department says it had alerted the Uttarakhand government on June 14
  • CAG report had warned of immense damage to hills by hydel projects along Bhagirathi, Alaknanda.
  • Scientists have repeatedly warned of “Himalayan tsunamis” caused by glacial lakes breaking banks

Why the ‘ragad-bagad’ happened this year

  • 500% higher rainfall than average in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh this year
  • 385 mm rainfall received by Uttarakhand; on average it receives around 71 mm around this time of year

Why the scale of devastation is so huge

  • Incessant blasting of hills to construct dams has loosened soil. So has deforestation. This causes landslides.
  • Rush of pilgrims. Several thousands of outsiders present in and around the zones hit by landslides and floods
  • Rampant and unchecked urban construction in the riverbed and along the banks
  • Illegal mining of sand, which is very common, erodes banks and makes defences weaker

Death & devastation: The official death toll stands at 150+, but a reasoned estimat ion warns the final figure could run into the high hundreds and could even touch the thousands

60 thousand people stranded at pilgrim spots and other towns in Uttarakhand

***

It’s 5 a.m. The Jolly Grant airport looks like a missing persons bureau. From the early hours, when security personnel were changing duty rounds, young and old...

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