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Yes, The Uttarakhand Disaster Was Man Made!

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By Nicky Collins:

Blame is a lazy man’s way of making sense out of chaos. As I was reading about the devastating floods that have ravaged one of the most scenic states of our country, I could feel the familiar urge to point my finger at someone or something. Yes, at many points of our life, we do like to take the easy way out from a disaster by simply blaming it on others. But the floods in Uttarakhand prove to be a very complicated situation if you look at it closely.


The first finger, when it comes to even the tiniest detail of the weather, is always pointed at God. But I think, given that most of the stranded people in Uttarakhand are pilgrims, we can safely exonerate God for the deluge. From what I have observed, blaming is a much relished activity in India. The government, of course, is everybody’s favorite punching bag. Criticizing the government is seen as a dignified way of acquitting ourselves of any responsibility to the country. Sometimes the range of people we blame for our state of affairs is ludicrous – the neighbor who lives six floors down, your boss, the prime minister or even aliens and UFOs. In fact, the only person who is worse than the average Indian when it comes to blaming is Mamta Banerjee — if the floods had happened in West Bengal, she would have unhesitatingly blamed it on the CPM, no matter what common sense dictates.

But here, I would like to provide an alternative viewpoint. What if we, the normal citizens, do deserve some culpability in this matter? Of course, I am not suggesting that any of us have the power to control the weather. But what if we are indirectly a little bit guilty when it comes to natural disasters in general?

True, it is the hydroelectric projects constructed by the government that has resulted in the instability of the soil strata that probably compounded the effect of the floods. But who uses the power from these dams? We do. Who is ready to bite off the heads of those in the government if they do not get electricity? We are. Who raises a hue and cry if the power cuts are too long? We do.

The lush greenery that plays a very important role in stabilizing the ecosystem of the hilly areas is also being cleared because we need to build settlements. There is also a very good chance that the freaky weather these days is a result of the adverse impact of human activity on the environment which has resulted in global warming already.

In this entire issue, a sense of unity was conspicuous by its absence. I was disgusted by reports that stated that some locals were taking advantage of these floods by inflating the cost of basic items like food many times over. And if articles in leading newspapers are to be believed, pickpockets made a killing while people were fleeing for their lives.

Whatever way we look at this issue, it is obvious that we are at fault in some or the other way. And although the culpability is not very obvious, we all understand that it is there. That brings us to the main question, ‘Are the Uttarakhand floods a manmade disaster?’ You bet.

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  1. Raj

    It was the dams that saved some of the large cities in those areas, so no the dams didn’t cause it . Why did it happen? Because it rained unusually heavily and there were too many people there. Simple.

    1. Nicky Collins

      I would like to clarify that I did not claim that the dams caused it. What I said was that the dams ‘compounded’ the effect of the flood.

      The ecosystems of hilly areas tend to be very fragile. So when you clear away a large amount of vegetation for the sake of hydroelectric projects, you are taking away the one thing that can alleviate the damage caused by floods. So I stand by what I have said in my article.

      However, I would like to remind you that my article is more concerned about our culpability than that of the dams.

  2. bansi dhameja

    उतरांचल की तबाही..माँगें खुदा से दुआएँ …bansi

    पानी में बहते हुए देख अपनो को
    कुच्छ भी कर ना पाए बचाने के लिए
    कैसे भूल पाएँगे ये मंज़र वो ज़िंदगी भर
    रह गये हैं लाश बन कर जीने के लिए

    वो मॅगने गये थे दुआएँ ज़िंदगी की
    किया पता था मौत से मुलाकात हो जाएगी
    खो कर जो लौटे हैं घर अपनो को
    लगता है उनको ज़िंदगी भर नीद नहीं आएगी

    करता हूँ इलतजा अपने हुकूमरानो से अभी
    भूल जाओ अपने अपने स्वार्थ सभी
    कुच्छ तो सोचो करो मिलकर सभी
    कुच्छ तो सोचो करो मिलकर सभी

    करना तो उनके लिए कुच्छ हमें भी चाहिया
    आओ उनके लिए माँगें खुदा से दुआएँ सभी
    आओ उनके लिए माँगें खुदा से दुआएँ सभी

    Paani men bahte huye dekha apno ko
    Kuchh bhi kar na paye bachane ke liye
    kaise bhool payenge ye manzar wo zindagi bhar
    Rah gaye hain lash banker jeene ke lye

    Wo Magne gaye the duayen zindagi ki
    Kiya pata tha maut se mulakat ho jayegi
    Kho kar jo laute hain ghar apno ko
    Lagta hai Unko zindagi bhar need nahin aayegi

    Karta hoon iltja apne hukumrano se abhi
    Bhool jao apne apne swarth sabhi
    Kuchh to karo milkar socho sabhi
    Kuchh to karo milkar socho sabhi

    Unke liye Karna kuchh to hamen bhi chahiya
    Aao unke liye mangen khuda se duayen sabhi
    Aao unke liye mangen khuda se duayen sabhi

    Bansi (madhur)

    1. Raj

      You want use to ask “khuda” for blessings for the victims? How about slapping khuda and demanding why he’s up this nonsense?

  3. Shivanshi Asthana

    i would like to say something here…its very easy to point fingers at anyone and everyone because its frustrating to c people dying of hunger and everyone being seemingly “helpless” about it…the prime minister says its the state govt responsibility..we say it the systems responsibility…but i do have the audacity to say that it is a man made disaster..n the reason is…overpopulation..whether it is the overcrowding at the railway ticket counters or the holy shrines..i kno that the govt isnt dng as much as it shud hav..but the fact matter how much we prepare for it..everything becomes so inadequate in this country because…forgive me but m sayin this….ppl are being born like cats and dogs.. we hav witnessed the allahabad sangam disaster not so long ago…n now this one..dont u think there should b a limitation on how many people per family shud b allowed …n that people who hav once visited these shrinesshud hav the common sense nt to visit them for recreational purposes and pollute the environmnt and add to the influx there?…this topic needs a serious consideration by the citizens….even more than the govt.nothing is gonna change until we change guys.

  4. zoomi farookhi

    i didn’t get the reason that exactly caused the floods in uttarakhand…, the dams or the increasing population…?

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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