A pillar from a broken bridge stands amid the Pindar river in Narayanbagar village. It is all that was spared by the river when it shifted course andtore through the village last year. The river took with it around 50 buildings and landslips followed.
On June 16-17 last year, rains wreaked havoc, with flash floods in many rivers of Uttarakhand; landslips engulfing property and lives, especially in Kedarnath Valley. On June 17, the Mandakini swept through Kedarnath. Other rivers, including the Alaknanda, Pindar, Bhagirathi and Kali, got flash flooded and the deluge of took away the lives of 169 people and rendered 4,021 people missing.
A year on, the State government is focussing on Kedarnath restoration efforts. However, lack of similar attention can be witnessed in other disaster-hit areas in Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Bageshwar, Pithoragarh, and Uttarkashi districts. Avtar Singh Pharswan, President, Aapda Sangharsh Samiti, Narayanbagar, said, “On May 26 we staged a protest. The bridge in our village is broken for a year and it has become a problem for the people to reach the main road. Every department says the work is with some other department. We will continue our protest.”
After the deluge there were talks about providing rehabilitation to the villagers whose land was subject to constant sinking. However, nothing has been done by the authorities to rehabilitate those at risk.
In Uttarakashi’s Bhatwari region, villagers complained that multiple survey teams conducted surveys of the cracked houses and the extent of damage in the region. But the issue of rehabilitation either gets reduced to mere compensation for repairing the buildings situated on sinking land, and sometimes even compensation is not provided.
An ill-repaired road that has streams passing by takes one to Lambagar, a village 15 kilometres ahead of Badrinath. Kuldeep Chauhan, a resident of the village, said, “The work that has been done here is temporary. The roads will get blocked as soon as the monsoon rains arrive.”
Though protection walls are under construction in the area, it is unlikely that the work will be over before the monsoon season arrives.
State government data reveals that around 3 lakh pilgrims have visited the Char Dhams since the yatra began in the first week of May. Though the yatra, which affects the livelihood of around 7 lakh people, is being conducted, temporary reconstruction work is all that is visible. In most cases, that which was to be rebuilt has merely been repaired in a year after the deluge.
In May, Chief Minister Harish Rawat said that Rs. 4,000 crore was required in addition to the Rs 8,000 crore rehabilitation and reconstruction package that was approved by the UPA-II government. Though there has been no upgradation in the equipment of the meteorological department in a year after the tragedy, talks about establishing an early warning system are under way.