Pradeep Singh Dami’s two-storied house in Tawaghat village in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district fell like a pack of cards on June 17, when the raging Kaliganga river knocked off a chunk of the hill beneath his house. Dami had small savings so he rented a room in Dharchula town, about 20 km from Tawaghat. Once a shopowner, he is now a shop assistant and can barely feed his family of five.
The Supreme Court has ordered the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to appoint an expert committee to ascertain whether existing and under-construction hydropower plants and projects in Uttarakhand contributed to the flood disaster that hit the state in June.
The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), in one of its first reports on the Uttarakhand floods, has blamed “climatic conditions combined with haphazard human intervention” in the hills for the disaster.
Indian mythology is replete with instances of ‘akaash-vaani’ (heaven speak) to warn both kings gone astray and common people deviating from the path of ‘dharma’. The most famous of them is of course the ‘akaash-vaani’ predicting King Kansa’s death at Krishna’s hand. But ‘heaven speak’ does not just belong to the realm of mythology. What happened in Uttarakhand in June is proof enough.
As Uttarakhand starts to pick up the pieces in the wake of the devastating floods of mid-June, the state government is preparing a list of missing persons who would be presumed dead if they do not return home or call their relatives by July 15. Under normal circumstances, people who have gone missing are declared dead only if they have not been heard of for 7 years.
The extreme rains of June 16 this year lead to a disaster of unprecedented proportions in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Many theories and explanations for the disaster have surfaced in the aftermath of the floods in the state. Now clearer satellite images of the upstream and downstream areas of the Kedar valley that have emerged are enabling a clearer understanding of the scientific and environmental reasons for the tragedy in the state.
In the wake of the disaster in Uttarakhand, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has questioned the manner in which indiscriminate developmental activities have been carried out in the ecologically fragile regions of the state. In a show-cause notice issued on July 2, the tribunal has asked the state government and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to place on record the ‘basis on which massive construction has been raised on the hills.’
Twenty days after floods in Uttarakhand caused massive destruction of property and loss of life, chief minister Vijay Bahuguna has called for a blanket ban on the construction of residential and commercial complexes on low-lying areas along rivers. Bahuguna announced the ban at a press conference in Dehradun on Monday.
Intensive construction activity that has been going on in the Himalayas is one reason why floods in Uttarakhand turned so devastating. Indiscriminate construction of hydel projects is one such activity. While these projects are needed for development, building them causes a lot of damage.
The recent events in Uttarakhand have shown, more than ever, that we need a development strategy for the Himalayas that takes into account the vulnerability of the region and the need for environment protection.
Poorly planned dams in Uttarakhand which were constructed without paying heed to their environmental impact is seen as one of the reasons why floods turned so devastating in the state this June. Experts say there is an urgency to reassess the need of hydropower in the state and make hydro energy sustainable.
Government officials claim that dams contained floods in many areas in Uttarkhand during the recent cloudburst and extreme rain events, and that the devastation would have been much more severe if it were not for these structures.
The Char Dham Yatra, a trail that leads to four holy shrines of Hindu pilgrimage in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, opened to pilgrims on May 13 this year. In a month, almost 1.3 million pilgrims completed the journey to the four shrines of Gangotri,
I have been working on the issue of notification of Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) in the Western Ghats for some time now and thus aware of the sordid attempts to block this important protection measure. The devastating calamity in Uttarakhand has now brought the ESZ issue into sharp focus and triggered extensive debates.
Natural disasters strike without notice. With changing climate, fear of extreme rain, tropical cyclones and variable weather events will now intensify–all these will make our world even more vulnerable and more hazardous. The question is why civilian India remains so unprepared to deal with disasters–to forewarn people; to handle the crisis and to rehabilitate the affected.
The cloudburst–induced flood in Uttarakhand was a disaster waiting to happen. The state’s draft action plan on climate change is full of such warnings. A prudent document, it captures vulnerability assessments on Uttarakhand, people’s perceptions of climate change and how they are getting affected by the change. The document is also a comment on the development model in the state and raises several points about how development should not be done in an ecologically fragile region.
While extreme weather and unregulated planning are being blamed for the devastation caused by the Uttarakhand floods, deforestation is regarded as another factor. This aspect of the Uttarakhand disaster, however, is more complex than it appears. The worst affected districts of Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi are the areas where maximum forestland has been diverted for development activities.
Weather prediction and disaster response have become issues fuelling the blame game between state officials in Uttarakhand. An analysis of rainfall data for the past five years, available on the website of the India Meteorological Department, points to changes in rainfall trends in India, with a greater number of incidents of excess rain in Uttarakhand in June.
The Kedarnath temple is one of the few structures in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand to have escaped relatively unscathed in the recent floods. The temple is located in the Kedar valley below the Chorabari glacier, which is the source of the river Mandakini. While little is known about the glacier’s history, a study of lichens has revealed clues to the glacier’s past and the temple’s present.
While most of the relief and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand is concentrated around Kedarnath, little attention has been paid to Pithoragarh district, which was hit by floods twice in recent days. An estimated 1,000 people are stranded in the area as roads connecting to different areas have collapsed during floods and landslides. Some of the roads were well-maintained and in good shape as they fall on the way to Kailash Mansarovar.
More than 20 tents are spread across the sprawling grounds of Bikash Bhavan at Ladri Joshala of Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand. Ramesh Singh Rana, 38, and his 12 family members from flood-ravaged Dhanpur village have been living here since June 16 along with 30 other families.
The Valley of Flowers (VOF) National Park in Uttarakhand runs in an east-west direction along the banks of the river Pushpawati. Its rich biodiversity and outstanding natural beauty have earned it the status of a World Heritage Site from UNESCO. However, this region, with its picturesque and species-rich alpine meadows, is under threat.
The Himalaya has one of the most fragile topographies among mountain ranges of the world on account of being the youngest. Even though its phase of major upheavals has ended, the Himalayan mountains are still rising. The Indian plate is continuously pushing north about 2 cm every year, and so the Himalaya is rising about 5 mm a year. This means the Himalaya is still geologically active and structurally unstable. What does this mean in terms of predicting disasters in the area? In this series of interviews, Jyotsna Singh talks to experts on the way forward
The before and after pictures below are self-explanatory. The post-flood image on Bhuvan (ISRO'a geoportal) was acquired on 21 June, 2013. Zooming into the Kedar valley area highlights the disturbances and flooding that have occurred north of the region, including the emergence of a new stream (number 3 in the image) which has cut across a green patch. The water brought down a lot of debris towards Kedarnath and further down into the Mandakini river, causing the major disaster. This is an initial assessment; other parameters such as rainfall data and terrain will need to be examined for further analysis.
In the decade that followed grant of statehood to Uttarakhand in 2000, the state's development priorities changed. Infrastructure and real estate development, triggered by the cash flow from tourism, have led to indiscriminate mining of river beds for construction material, altering the fragile Himalayan environment. This human activity has exacerbated the effects of the flash floods that have badly affected the state.
News about the floods in Uttarakhand revive memories of my trip to the Valley of flowers last year. I am glad I could make it then, for this year this picturesque place in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand has been ruined by the extreme rains. Sanjay Rawat, sarpanch of the van panchyat (village forest council) who had guided me around the World Heritage Site last year, called to tell me about the devastation in the area. He said the river that passes through the heritage site had washed away the beautiful meadows. The flowers, too, have been wiped out. His information was hearsay as nobody can go near the area. Rawat and other people stranded in the valley were airlifted to safety recently.
In the aftermath of the Uttarakhand floods, a number of hydroelectric projects that had been constructed on the Ganga have suffered serious damage.
The state hydel power development corporation, Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL), suffered a loss of total Rs 77 crore. It also suffered an additional Rs 50 crore loss in power generation.
The Uttarakhand disaster has left gruesome scenes of death and devastation in its wake. The state government claims that 557 people have died so far, but the estimated death toll could be as high as 15,000. Now rumours are doing the rounds in the corridors of power that the state chief minister Vijay Bahuguna is seeking a religious leader’s sanction to organise a mass funeral for the deceased.
While the Uttarakhand government claims that 150 doctors from Sir Ganga Ram hospital and Fortis hospital in New Delhi have been deployed to affected areas, the hospital authorities claim ignorance.
The chief minister of the state, Vijay Bahuguna, had said that he had put together a group of 150 doctors and 17 teams from Ganga Ram hospital and Fortis hospital in New Delhi, and that these teams are already providing medical assistance to the rescued at various camps in Joshimath, Gauchar, Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi and Guptkashi in Uttarakhand.
A mock drill organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in May-June 2011 in three districts of Uttarakhand had raised many crucial questions. After the drill, that was conducted in Dehradun on May 27, Haridwar on May 30 and Tehri-Garhwal on June 1, many solutions were offered to reduce damage in the state in the event of a disaster. None were implemented. The report of this drill is not public yet.
Uttarakhand has barely had any time to recover from the three days of extreme rains and accompanying floods and landslides that have demolished buildings, bridge and roads, leaving scores dead and more unaccounted for. Just 12 hours after the rain in the region ceased and rescue operations were pushed into top gear, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts rain after another two days.
Tourists and pilgrims stranded on route of various pilgrim centres like Gaurikund, Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib turned up in Rudraprayag on Thursday by buses, jeeps and on foot after the route from Haridwar to Rudraprayag was reopened. Local residents whose homes had been washed away also streamed into Rudraprayag.
Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, two hill states in the Himalayan range, are so far the worst hit by the extreme rains that struck northern India in the wake of monsoons that set in early this year. Media reports say nearly 60 persons have died in Uttarakhand, and an estimated 60,000 pilgrims are stranded. Heavy rainfall has wreaked havoc on the region because of the fragile nature of the Himalayan range and poor soil stability in its steep slopes.
It will be hard for people living in Uttarakhand, especially Uttarkashi, to forget the three days starting June 15, 2013. Incessant heavy rains during these days pretty much brought the mountains down. There are no confirmed figures of casualty or the number of people stranded, but estimates put the number of dead at 130; around 75,000 are estimated to be stranded; and 7,000 missing.
The unpredictability of Indian monsoons will increase further if the global rise in temperature is not controlled immediately. The frequency of extreme wet monsoon, currently witnessed in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, will also increase substantially. The water situation in river basins, especially that of the Ganga, will become erratic – there will be more runoff, that is more water flowing in the river, but wet seasons will become wetter and dry seasons drier.
Electricity board workers in Rudraprayag attempt to restore electricity connections in the affected areas. The electric supply line has almost been destroyed and washed away in the flood (Photos by Soumik Mukherjee)
Villagers in Agastyamuni attempt to restore electric supply lines with the help of electric supply workers. There is no electricity in the region even eight days after the flood. (Photos by Soumik Mukherjee)
Floods in Uttarakhand explained:
The National Remote Sensing Centre under ISRO has released some interesting satellite images that could possibly explain the devastation in Uttarakhand
Pilgrims from Kedar valley reach Rudraprayag through forests (Photos by Soumik Mukherjee)
Sumari, one of the worst-affected villages in the lower part of Rudraprayag district. Almost 40 families have been affected in this small village, 15 houses have been washed away (Photos by Soumik Mukherjee)
Houses in Silli, 17 km from Rudraprayag, on route to Kedarnath, have been filled with sand and silt almost to ceiling (Photos by Soumik Mukherjee)
The destroyed roads in lower Rudraprayag have made it almost impossible for the relief workers to go up and for people to descend safely (Photos by Soumik Mukherjee)
Road near Bhiri on way to Kedarnath washed away by floods (Photograph: Sanjay Semwal)
Images of devastation(Photograph: Sanjay Semwal)
Many buildings are still in danger of being washed away (Photograph: Sanjay Semwal)
An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people staying in Kedaranath and surrounding areas fled to the forests uphill(Photograph: Sanjay Semwal)
First ground shots on the devastation around Kedarnath(Photograph: Sanjay Semwal)
Kedarnath before the flash floods(Photograph: Sanjay Semwal)
With rains predicted on Sunday, the 48 hours before that is crucial to rescue operations (Photograph: Sanjay Semwal)
Ghost town (Photograph: Sanjay Semwal)
Army personnel have been rescuing stranded tourists and pilgrims in Uttarakhand by foot. Air evacuation operations will start from June 21 (Photograph: Indian Army)
A bird's eye view of area around Govindghat in Uttarakhand. The army is working on laying a cable bridge (Photograph: Indian Army)
Portion of the road at Govindghat has been washed away (Photograph: Indian Army)
For rescue and relief operations, at least 5000 army personnel have fanned across districts of Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh districts in Uttarakhand and some areas in Uttar Pradesh (Photograph: Indian Army)
Access to many areas is cut off because of roads and bridges getting washed away by floods (Photograph: Indian Army)
Army personnel evacuating pilgrims by foot en route to Kedarnath (Photograph: Indian Army)
More than 2000 pilgrims have been evacuated by foot, and housed at Joshimath and Dharchula (Photograph: Indian Army)
Army personnel evacuated 600 people across a rivulet by laying a temporary bridge made of wooden logs on rout (Photograph: Indian Army)
In Uttarakhand, army has undertaken rescue and relief operations in four sectors – Harsil, Kedarnath, Joshima (Photograph: Indian Army)
Heavy rains have washed away the road beyond the Pinder valley bridge (Photograph: Kailash Devradi)
The road connecting Pinderghati to Dehradun has been completely washed away in the rain (Photograph: Razz Rautela)
Uttarakhand experienced tremors measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale. No loss of life or property is reported. However, it spread panic among the people living in the flood- and landslide-ravaged areas
As many as 18 of the 300 bodies recovered from Kedarnath were cremated Wednesday in a mass funeral. The bodies had started rotting. Sources say the state government had earlier sought ITBP’s help to cremate the bodies, but they refused. The Ministry of Home Affairs then wrote a letter to the state government, asking it to undertake cremation. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is also helping in this task. DNA samples of the deceased have already been collected. 150 quintal of wood is being flown into Kedarnath for the funerals
Epidemic outbreak is reported from various places in Uttarakhand. Gaurigaon village near Gaurikund is the worst affected, where over 5,000 people took shelter. An estimated 500 people died in the village because of starvation or disease, inform survivors. Their bodies had been rotting for over a week in the village. Disease surveillance programme has started in Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi and Haridwar. A large number of patients were taken to Jolly Grant Hospital in Dehradun and authorities suspect that water sources near Guptkashi and Gaurigaon have been contaminated by rotting bodies. Large number of diarrhoea cases have been reported from Alwalpur near Haridwar, Urwi near Uttarkashi and Chandrapuri near Rudraprayag. About a 100 people are suffering from gastro-intestinal infections in Ramnagar village of Guptkashi. Three ITBP personnel working in Kedarnath have also fallen sick
Several houses in “safer” towns are collapsing one by one in Bageswar (Pithoragarh) and Haldwani (Nainital). In Bageswar, three houses were damaged after the base of the building cracked. Local people say heavy rains weakened the foundations (which is mostly loose mud) as water seeped into it and the houses collapsed. In Haldwani, even though shops and houses are built on higher land, changing river course is corroding the base of the hills on which the structure stand. Rains of the past three days caused three houses to topple into the river
Uttarakhand government has issued an alert following rise in the water level of the three rivers--Ramganga, Kaliganga and Goriganga. Residents in Pithoragarh live in dread of the river levels rising again. They say many houses in the area were washed away by floods that occurred twice, once on June 16 and then again on June 22 when water overflowed from Milam glacial lake
About 700 persons are said to be stuck in Darma valley in Dharchula in Pithoragarh district. About 100 tourists are stranded in Gunji after the road connecting to the place collapsed. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Sashastra Seema Bal camps in Dharchula have also been destroyed (from Pithoragarh)
Bad weather is coming in the way of rescue operations in Pithoragarh district. Munsiari, Madkot and Dharchula are the worst-affected areas. Army personnel are trying to reach people in interior areas on foot after chopper operations were halted because of inclement weather
While many young and fit people stranded in villages managed to trek their way to safety, others were not so fortunate. A resident of Baram was reportedly killed while attempting to cross a large crater-like depression. Another resident in Ralam was grievously injured when he fell into such a pit
There are reports of a disease outbreak in Milam and Martoli in Pithoragarh. These areas are completely cut off by landslides and flood
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has said that people missing after the calamity would be declared dead after a month. Under normal circumstances, a person is declared dead only if she or he has been missing for seven years
People in many villages in Pithoragarh have gone without food for the past 10 days; the roads connecting their villages have collapsed. These villages include Simkola, Bumbum, Pankhul, Bodhi, Jaykot, Pangla, Rung and Sirkha. Over a 1,000 people are said to be stranded in these villages
People of Dharchula, Pithoragarh district, near the Nepal border, claim that a glacial lake below the Milam glacier burst. Two rivers Kali Ganga and Gori Ganga originate from the glacier. Heavy rains made the glacial lake overflow, sending a lot of water down the rivers. Several villages were washed away. Connectivity was affected, and no relief reached them for ten days.
Harish Rawat, Union minister for water resources, visited Pithoragarh today. He spoke to locals, and promised compensation to those who have lost their land and homes.
An Indian Air Force helicopter carrying out rescue operations in Uttarakhand's flood-affected Guptkashi and Kedarnath crashed on Tuesday evening, killing twenty persons on board (from Rudraprayag)
The Uttarakhand state electricity board says it has restored electricity supply to Guptkashi, seven days after floods and landslides cut off power supply to the area. This would aid in relief and rescue operations because all stranded people rescued from Gaurikund and Kedarnath are first brought to Guptkashi, a major transit point for evacuation to safe areas (from Rudraprayag)
The causualty in Uttarkashi town is relatively low because the residents here saw the disaster coming and evacuated to safer areas in time. The Tilot bridge that connects Uttarkashi with Kedarnath collapsed and the water razed all the houses that were at the lower level (from Uttarkashi)
The Gangotri and Yamunotri highways are damaged at several places. The stretch from Uttarkashi to Bhatwari (36 km) is broken at six places--Gangori, Mando, Siror, Netala, Sainje and Lata. These stretches were washed away by the river. As one goes higher, roads are damaged because of landslide (from Uttarkashi)
The Gangotri-Rishikesh highway has caved in at Chinyali, Gangnani, Chhala, Sukhitop, Batheri, Banderkot, Sainje and Dharasu (from Uttarkashi)
Cycles are a better bet when roads are non-motorable. I and my friend took a cycle and went till Gangori (3 km from Gangotri), kept the cycle at somebody’s house. We crossed the crater on foot and met a shop owner who was my friend’s friend. We took another cycle from him and went till Naitala, kept his cycle there before walking across the crater. This is how we reached Sainje. In Sainje the road has simply disappeared; only a yawning 20 ft crevice is visible. A tree is all that connects both sides of the road. And beneath us is the raging river (from Bhatwari)
People living in the upper reaches now live in constant fear of landslides. With rains making a come back on Saturday, people in Bhatwari are bracing themselves for more landslides. Some people say that they saw rocks falling from the mountain and say large cracks have developed in the mountains. The ground has split in many places on their fields. Between Bhatwari and Dharsil, people reported that fresh landslides could soon happen as the mountains have almost tilted (from Bhatwari)
Air rescue operations in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand have come to a halt because of heavy rains. Teams of National Disaster Response Force and ITBP are trekking to Kedarnath from Gaurikund to find survivors. An estimated 5,000 people are stranded in the forests of Kedarnath, at Triyuvi Narayan and Rambara (From Rudraprayag)
Flashfloods and landslides have damaged Uttarakhand's power infrastructure. Larsen and Toubro's 99 MW Singholi Bhatwari project near Kedarnath hills and Lanco's 76 MW Phata Byung project near Rambara suffered extensive damage. State government run Kaliganga 1 and II plants of 6 MW and 4MW respectively have shut down due to landslides (from Rudraprayag)
Much of the relief and rescue operations is directed towards tourists and pilgrims. Officials who attended to some 650 people in Agastyamuni village on route to Kedarnath from Rudraprayag say they have received to relief supplies to help residents approaching them for help (from Rudraprayag)
As rescue operations progress, the death toll in Uttarakhand is shooting up. Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna says that 550 bodies have been recovered so far. Thousands of people are feared to have died. Local people say more bodies will emerge once the water level recedes (from Rudraprayag)
Politicians reaching Kedar valley are being received with jeers and anger. I hitch a ride with an MLA to Kedarnath. As we land, people come running towards us. They are given food but they look at it with distaste and request to be air-lifted. There must be around a 75-100 people there. They are assured that they would soon be rescued. The MLA gives a little speech how his party would ensure that these people reach home safely. Thirty-six-year old Rakesh Singh, one of a group of 13, spat when the MLA approached him. Singh does not know where 12 of his family members are. The MLA ignores him and poses in front of the Kedar temple (from Kedarnath)
The lanes in Kedar are filled with crumbled tin sheets and logs of wood. The area stinks of rotting carcasses. Each survivor has a similar story to narrate about the horrors of the night when the area was hit by flash flood. Some of the visitors who had left before the floods on horses and ponies were turned back because of a strike declared by the union that provides the services to people who cannot return to base camp on foot, say survivors (from Kedarnath)
Dehradun resident Jayprakash Semwal stuck in Gaurigaon says that hundred of dead bodies are scattered in the forests and if they are not removed soon, there is a fear of disease breakout (from Rudraprayag)
Near Silli village, 17 km from Rudraprayag, on way to Kedarnath, the river Mandakini, a tributary of the Ganga, has shifted course. The river washed away all structures 20 m either side of the bank, say residents (from Rudraprayag)
In Tilwara and Sumari village, about 40 km from Rudraprayag, isolated crowds can be seen at several places. Half of Sumari village is completely washed off and rest of the houses are tilted and damaged. They are not counted as damaged by government, which means they get no relief (from Rudraprayag)
After the floods, operation of Maneri Bhali hydroelectric power project I and II have been shut down. 301 MW Maneri Bhali II’s barrage is near Uttarakashi town. 90 MW Maneri Bhali I is 14 km from Uttarkashi town in Maneri. The gates of projects are locked (from Rudraprayag)
Rescue teams are yet to reach an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people who had escaped from Kedarnath valley into the nearby forests to escape the floods. They have received no food packets either (from Rudraprayag)
No aid has reached areas in Rudraprayag district like Chandrapuri and Agast Muni devastated by the floods. People have begun to fall sick and an epidemic outbreak is feared (from Rudraprayag)
Major roads in Uttarakhand have been reconnected. These include Joshimath to Rishikesh via Karna Prayag, Gauchar, Rudraprayag; Gupt Kashi to Tehri via Mayali and Chribatiya; Ghansali via Tipri and Nai Theri to Dev Prayag (from Rudraprayag)
Government has decided to pay Rs 5,400 per affected household as general assistance but there have been complaints that the affected households are getting only Rs 2,700 (from Rudraprayag)
Bihar minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey who was rescued along with family members after being stranded for three days, on June 20, says that the death toll is likely to climb up to 20,000 (from Rudraprayag)
National Disaster Management Authority vice chairperson M Sashidhar Reddy says that the mechanism for weather prediction in Amarnath will also be used in the Char Dham Yatra (from Rudraprayag)
The state infrastructure development commissioner, Rakesh Sharma, says the state has incurred damage worth Rs 50,000 crore. This includes Rs 11 crore worth government property, 10 roads, three iron bridges, 10 wooden bridges, three rural drinking water projects and 40 minor irrigation projects. 71 streams have dried up because of blocks in their flow. (from Rudraprayag)
Medical teams helping in the rescue operations consist of general physicians and surgeons only. A lot of survivors have bone injuries, but no orthopaedic treatment is available. (from Rudraprayag)
Unconfirmed reports suggest the floods have been caused by glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) flow. Survivors say Gandhi Sarovar, Gaurikund and Doodh Ganga lakes in the Kedar valley have all disappeared. (from Rudraprayag)
On June 17, the Yatra control room in Dehradun registered 26,000 pilgrims who left for the Char Dham Yatra. Only 3,000 have been rescued so far. The government claims there are no pilgrims stranded in the Kedar valley. The DTE reporter who travelled by helicopter to the site saw people on the ground running helter skelter. (from Rudraprayag)
The state government has released a list of the worst-hit districts in the state. These are Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Tehri, Udham Singh Nagar, Champawat, Haridwar, Bageshwar, Pithoragarh, Nainital, Almora and Dehradun. There is no further information about the ground siatuation since the list was released on June 19 (from Rudraprayag)
The authorities have opened two relief camps at Gauchar, 20 km before Kedarnath, and at Dehradun. About 300 people were brought to these centres in critical condition.
Officials said that it took the army three days to reach Kedar valley.
They said the next 48 hours are crucial for rescue operations because the Met office has predicted rains from June 24 which could hamper relief and rescue work, and people would be left starving. (from Rudraprayag)