Uttarakhand: Homage to the dead as hope dims
Zee Media Bureau
Dehradun: It’s been a month since disaster struck the hilly state of Uttarakhand.
On June 16, incessant rains and cloudbursts triggered flash floods and landslides, killing thousands and displacing numerous others.
The government officially declared those still missing as “dead” on Monday, while still counting its losses, both physical and financial.
On Tuesday, special prayers as well as a ‘shanti yagna’ will be held for the dead.
The government has already begun disbursing compensation to those killed or "missing beyond hopes of coming back".
While the government has decided to declare the 5,748 people missing as `presumed dead`, inclement weather and a near paralysed administration are making the path of recovery, relief and rehabilitation more difficult.
So far, the number missing from Uttarakhand is 924 and from other states 4,824. These include the elderly, women, children and young men.
The head of the missing cell, Ajay Kumar Pradyot, said an affidavit form had been drafted for the next of kin of the missing. Once they fill it up, they will get compensation.
If a person deemed missing is located, the money will have to be returned.
Officials said several bodies are still buried under the slush and rubble in the worst-hit Kedarnath valley and in other places.
Officials conceded that while communication lines had been restored in most areas barring Kedarnath, hundreds of villages remain cut off and far from the reach of government relief.
"We are trying our best to get things back to normalcy. But the sheer magnitude of the devastation has taken us several years back. It will take time to stabilize our efforts," said a senior official.
The biggest challenges are repair and relaying of thousands of kilometres of mountain roads ripped off in rains, rehauling the infrastructure and normalizing the tourism sector.
In many places in Pithoragarh, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi, small roads and footpaths are being rebuilt. Mule tracks being restored to enable ration and other supplies to reach.
The National Institute of Mountaineering is trying to find out walking tracks in the rain-ravaged region.
Hundreds of schools which have several feet of sludge accumulated in the buildings have for now deferred reopening after the summer vacation and trying hard to rebuild and repair the structures.
After an initial war of words between political parties over the alleged failure to heed to warnings of heavy rains and failure to rescue people to safety, an all-party meeting has agreed to expedite relief work.
"The government is making all efforts to ensure that people in need are attended to and life returns to normalcy as soon as possible," says Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna.
Officials are faced with a multitude of other problems.
This include outbreak of water-borne diseases in some areas and the resistance by some in Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri who have refused to leave until the `kapaat` (doors) of shrines close.
But that will only happen in November.
Hundreds of trucks with relief material are yet to be attended to. The state government has expressed its inability to receive them and send them to the hills.
The government has announced a new development policy which restricts buildings on the river banks and calls for a close monitoring of reckless construction in the hill state.
Timely settling of insurance claims - now to the tune of a whopping Rs. 3,000 crore - is another huge task.
Zonal managers of four government insurance companies met here last week to chalk out a strategy to settle claims. The central finance ministry has asked companies to settle the claims fast.
The tourism sector, the lifeline of the Uttarakhand economy, is in tatters.
Industry leaders say it would take one to two years to bring it back on rails. Central Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi has announced a Rs 100 crore relief package for the sector.
But with confidence of the pilgrims from across the country shaken and the infrastructure of the Char Dham Yatra in shambles, it will take a long time for the situation to stabilize.
(With IANS inputs)
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Zee Media exclusive chat with 'Welcome to Karachi' cast
- Reservation issue: Police register case against Bainsla, 20 others
- Zee Media exclusive interview with Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar
- UP Minister allegedly threatens, abuses Gonda businessman
- Manali: Heavy corruption found in environmental taxes
- UP: Jammu-bound Muri Express derails in Kaushambi
- Five unmanned parachutes spotted over Mumbai airport
- Aapke Sitare: Astro prediction for May 24, 2015
- Watch: Fast N Facts @ 7:30pm
- One year of Modi govt: How satisfied is the common man?
- Dawood's intercepted phone calls prove yet again he is in Pakistan
- Jaipur girl Mini Rajpal wins Miss India Deaf 2015!
- CBSE Board Class 12th Exam Results 2015 declared
- Mumbai architecture creates double decker bus from scrap!
- One year of Modi govt: How satisfied is the common man? Part-2
- IPL 2015 Final: MI vs CSK - As it happened...
- Heatwave continues in North India; death toll in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana more than 400
- IPL 2015 final: Mumbai Indians thrash Chennai Super Kings by 41 runs to lift second title
- Heatwave claims over 550 lives so far, Delhi saw hottest day
- Check cbseresults.nic.in for CBSE Class 12 result 2015
- Kejriwal completes 100 days in office, AAP says centre 'shadow boxing' over row with LG
- Mathura rally: PM Modi slams 'corrupt' UPA regime, lauds NDA govt's efforts in past one year
- CBSE Class 12 results out: Here's how you can check
- Online filing of applications for UPSC civil services exam begins
- PM Narendra Modi's Mathura rally: As it happened
- Not just today, Muslims feeling alienated since 1947: Najma Heptulla