June 21, 2013

Uttarakhand Floods - A Disaster that was waiting to happen!

Hi Guys,

It is said that we cannot do anything against the tryst of nature. Again and again we meet with some natural disasters in some parts of the world that proves that nature is superior. But reading about the disaster in Uttarakhand has been a very pathetic one.

It was a disaster that was all set to happen. No preventive actions were taken, no warnings issued and the worst part is there was no evacuation plan in place. It is paining to know that there was no official response for three days expect for the Chief Minister saying that it was a Himalayan Tsunami. The state had no disaster relief plans and eventually Army had to be called to do the evacuation.

There are various factors that have led to this disaster. The first important factor is the unregistered and improper buildings that were build all around the mountains and rivers. They had cut the trees, allowed soil erosion to happen and blocked the path of water. The government never had reasons to demolish the encroachments.

The so called Char Dham Yatra has had 3 Crore visitors in the previous year. Tourism has been one of the major contributions to the state. Despite that the infrastructure had been poor and the Government never had intentions of developing the roads and facilities. I would not alone blame the government on this note. We have a general public opinion – ‘The more painful our path to God is, the more effective it is’. It is the people who believe that travelling to these hard bound places has a huge benefit on them and any sort of developmental measures taken in these places is opposed by a group of people.

Today morning I read in the newspaper that the Uttarakhand Government did not spend the disaster management fund allotted to them in the earlier year and hence they did not receive any funds. When the state is bound by mountains and rivers, isn’t it the responsibility of the Government to take preventive measures? The Government had taken no preventive measures and there were no reactive plans too. The people were just left stranded.

When there were heavy monsoons around and the Metrological Department predicting early and above average monsoons this year, didn’t the Government think that the pilgrims were in danger. They could have simply stopped from travelling into the mountains. Nothing was done officially until the floods washed away the connections. A simple announcement could have saved thousands of people.

Overall it was a Natural Disaster aided by manmade mistakes and neglect of Government. It is already a week and more than 50000 are still left stranded. Before the next set of rains lash the area, the evacuation needs to be carried out.

With years of action to be taken, the Government is all set to lose the tourism revenues and incur a lot of expenditure.

A good lesson for its greed, but sad that lot of people got stuck.