Lessons We Need To Learn From The Uttarakhand Tragedy, And The Way Forward

Posted on July 12, 2013 in Environment

By Amit Ranjan:

Flood ravaged state of Uttarakhand has been pushed at least a decade back in its development cycle. With the search and rescue operations almost over, news channels are swiftly moving their camps out of state, CM Bhauguna looks relieved that all the stranded pilgrims and tourists have been evacuated. But, this is no time to celebrate. We have a bigger threat looming over the state, that of rehabilitation of the natives. But before we move on to this, we must retrospect and introspect so that such man made disasters be avoided. Yes, it was a man made disaster. Why did the state never bother to check illegal mushrooming of hotels and homes within 100m radius of the river bank, when there where clear instructions against it? Now with blanket ban on any such development, let’s hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.


While this catastrophe was no less than tsunami, state machinery was slow to respond. While Bahuguna may be satisfied now, I would always believe that a little more agility and we could have saved a few more lives. Army flung to action soon and their dedication and diligence in search and rescue operation was commendable. They fought against all odds and even ventured in hostile conditions. In the process, we lost some of our brave hearts. While army toiled hard to save lives, politicians were busy milking this opportunity.

There was an open brawl between Congress and TDP as to whose flight escorts the Andhra Pradesh Victims back to the state. It is so ludicrous, how these sycophants behave. If they both had arranged for aircraft, they could have mutually agreed to contribute the excess resource to the victims of other state rather than fighting for who steals the limelight. State congress put half page advertisement in leading dailies proclaiming that they were with the victims. As if we doubted or rather as if we had reasons not to doubt it.

It’s no time to laud ourselves or establish political supremacy. It’s time to be one and help those in grief. There are still thousands of children missing, scores of villages have been completely cut-off, electricity shows up once a blue moon, telecommunication is still reeling leading to poor connectivity for the locals. As if these were not enough, fresh rains have only added fuel to the fire.

The Center has been generous enough in pouring in grants, providing subsidy in electricity bills, food etc, providing special package for the state in Pradhan Mantri Gram Sarak Yojna and Indira Awaas Yojna etc. While every penny allocated to this cause should be lauded, care has to be taken that these funds reach those in need and is not siphoned midway. We also need to learn from our mistakes this time and strive for better disaster management in future.

For all the tourist and mythological places that Uttarakhand has bestowed on our country for ages, it surly deserves much better.