Dehradun: 2013 will remain embedded in the memory of the nation as the year which saw Uttarakhand suffer the worst natural calamity in its history - a deluge which left over a thousand dead and thousands missing and washed away countless villages, roads and bridges dealing a fatal blow to tourism, the mainstay of the hill state`s economy.
Thousands of people lost their homes and jobs in the worst-hit districts of Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh with authorities predicting that the state will take years to recover from the effects of the crisis that befell the state on June 16-17.
TV footage of riverside structures and temples collapsing like a pack of cards and flowing down the swirling waters of rivers in spate, human skeletal remains lying scattered in the open in the calamity-hit areas are hard to forget.
Though not?new to calamities with cloudbursts and landslides being an annual affair, Uttarakhand had not known a disaster of this scale in which not just humans but a well known stopover destination for devotees on way to the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath like Rambara, a bustling township near Gaurikund, vanishing without a trace with all those who lived there and did tourism-related businesses.
The magnitude of the tragedy can be gauged from the fact that uncertainty hung for months over the exact number of people killed and missing with authorities wary of specifying a figure, saying many bodies could be lying under?tonnes of rubble left in the wake of the deluge.
When the deluge struck, lakhs of devotees from different parts of the country had converged at the Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri to pay obeisance out of which only about 1,20,000 could be evacuated to safety by the end of the mammoth rescue operations carried out by the armed forces.
According to an official figure, over 5000 people from different parts of the country went missing in the tragedy who are now presumed dead with the process of payment of compensation to their kin underway.