Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’
This tragedy has pushed Uttarakhand many years back. The damaged is huge. Around 1,500 villages, 2,000 km roads and 150 bridges have damaged in the floods in Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi and Chamoli districts only. The figures of damage, being quoted by the officials, are completely incorrect.
We must salute the dedication and prompt RSS, action carried out by the armed forces and voluntary organisations in this rescue operation. They are the real heroes. If they had not undertaken the rescue and relief missions, the casualties would have been much higher. Undoubtedly, the death toll would have been lesser if the State Government had started rescue operation in time. The officers of the armed forces involved in relief and rescue operations say this was the worst disaster they ever witnessed, the government is still hesitating to declare it a national disaster.
By calling it a civil rescue operation, the State government basically exposed the contradiction in its statements and actions. The disaster-hit State like Uttarakhand requires the people to work together. However, not a single senior official or State minister visited the disaster affected areas of Chamoli. The Prime Minister must intervene urgently in the rehabilitation activities so that the normalcy could be restored in the State. Sanctioning of additional funds to BRO can prove extremely beneficial for repairing and constructing the damaged bridges in the disaster affected areas. There is also a need to relax the norms for sanctioning funds for the disaster hit victims and to permanently appoint one battalion of NDRF in the State. Funds should also be sanctioned to install Doppler Radar for early and accurate forecasting focusing the weather conditions in the State.
Formation of Himalayan Authority could also prove extremely beneficial for the Himalayan states. The State government should immediately issue a White Paper on the disaster so that exact death toll and missing figures could be known. The introduction of the 108-Heli service should be immediately started for curbing the death toll in the disaster hit areas. Both the Union and State Governments should also issue Government Orders quashing the loans of farmers and students as the villagers have completely lost their livelihood in the mountainous parts of the State.
The Government should take ample measures to open roads along the Char Dham Yatra route, warehousing, coordinating with different nodal agencies operating in the disaster hit areas, medical and health facilities to villagers, supply of potable water, kerosene and food grains, communication, etc. Apart from this, free stationery and books should also be provided to the students so that their studies should not suffer.
It is a matter of concern that the Congress MLAs are staging protests against their own government and are alleging the slow pace of rescue works. Instead of gaining political mileage, the Congress should take more concrete measures for rehabilitation for the victims. The lives of thousands of pilgrims and locals could have been saved if the Government had taken steps to halt the Char Dham Yatra after the warning of State meteorological department on June 15 only.
The damage in plain areas too is no less. The State government must take concrete steps for the rescue of the affected people. I have personally seen many villages in Haridwar district which have submerged in the floods and people are crying for help. The failure of State government is generating much anguish among the affected
people. They should be helped immediately.