Uttarakhand floods: A disaster that was waiting to happen



Zee Media Bureau

Dehradun: The pictures of crumbling buildings on the banks of rivers in Uttarakhand and the stories of those on the lookout for their kith and kin lost in flood-hit areas are bone-chilling.

Why are the rivers flowing across the famed pilgrimage sites so furious that they have submerged whole towns, washing away shops, homes, hotels and lodges?

Some say that rivers have taken their revenge.

The injustice the man did to these rivers in the name of development have left the beautiful water bodies seething with anger.

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The mushrooming of buildings and houses along the banks of the river, construction of dams, breaching of regulations have always disturbed environmentalists. It seems Nature wanted to restore the balance that was disturbed by rivers having to change their course and due to blocking of their natural flow in the name of progress.

The huge devastation caused by these rivers is a lesson for the governments, under whose nose the basis of such disasters was laid. Nature had already sent warning signals. In August 2012, buildings were washed away by Uttarkashi flash floods. Later, a cloudburst in Rudraprayag had claimed 69 lives.

Remember how the Ganga warriors had earlier claimed that the Central government was not serious about keeping its assurance for stopping the work on hydro electric projects on Alaknanda and Mandakini, the two main tributaries of the Ganga. These meet at Rudraprayag, which is the epicentre of the devastation.

The hydel projects have been undertaken without assessing their impact on environment, hence the huge devastation.

Today, thousands are said to be missing in Uttarakhand after unprecedented rains and cloudburst led to landslides and flash floods killing more than 100 people and leaving 62,000 stranded.

Such was the magnitude of the disaster that a worried Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said: "It is a calamity that has numbed me by its sheer magnitude."