By Deep Gambhir:
Reportedly 165 dead and close to 600 people are still missing, and the toll is increasing each day. The morning of 5th August brought a bunch of grey clouds carrying news of several black years ahead. The cloudburst in the region changed the whole geography of the valley and gave the people a history not worth remembering. Within 2 hours of the cloudburst the whole region flooded away and left behind the injuries with never healing wounds and cries for never ending searches. Things could have been corrected but the burst was so havoc that it broke down various highways connecting the region to other cities, due to which — even the necessary aids could not fetch the region. The truck drivers and the people who were going to Leh for trade were also stuck on their ways due to the broken connectivity.
Beyond the density of the cloud there was another fact responsible for this massive destruction and that was, people used the traditional method to build their houses i.e. they used mud and mortar to build them. The cloudburst in the valley was totally an unexpected mishap because the placed had been declared as a clod desert, which was never expected to host heavy rains like Rajasthan. To give a healing touch to the victims of the Leh disaster, CM Omar Abdullah paid a visit and examined the loss. This was obviously a promising gesture from the government because the heaven on earth is already facing tensions for a couple of months. He also promised every possible helping hand on the behalf of the state as well as the centre. The second biggest loss to the people of Leh, after the disconnection of roads, was the breakdown of BSNL headquarters due to which the area was completely handicapped without communication.
Currently 6,000 army personnel and a huge force of ITBPS are joining hands to clear the debris and reconstruct the broken highways. An approximated budget of 71 crores has been estimated for seeking grant from the Central Government. The disturbingly huge task in front of the forces is that they have to build the houses before winters, which are generally shrewd in Leh and reach there before the rest of the country. The neighbouring country – Pakistan is also facing natural disaster in the form of fierce floods, — the most furious one in the past half century — and has taken the life of around 1500 countrymen. This event has provoked the political heat, as the people of Pakistan are criticizing their President’s visit to England at such a crucial point of time when they need him the most.
As of date, things are getting better, it is evident from the restoration of the BSNL functioning. Though only two towers have been put to work, that too by airlifting of machinery by Air force, the sms services are not yet activated. As always the helping hands have started pouring in for the support of the victims of the nature. Superstar Aamir Khan who shot the climax of his blockbuster flick — 3 Idiots in a school of the affected region, has asked the principal of the school to give him an estimate of funds required to re-establish the temple of education. Also, actress Priyanka Chopra, recalling her childhood days spent in the valley, has offered her support.
According to a report, the resettlement of Leh may take 5 to 6 years, perhaps the buildings will be rebuild and the wounds of poor would be healed, but the pain of losing family may take a lifetime for the victims to overcome.
The writer is a Guest Columnist at Youth Ki Awaaz and also a Journalist with the Times Group.