Gopal Singh Rawat from Uttarkashi
The loss of human lives and property would not have been so huge if the government had taken any lessons from the previous disasters in the Himalayan region. The disaster occurred on August 3, 2012 had caused much damage but nobody drew any lesson. Floods caused by Assi Ganga and Bhagirathi caused immense loss to houses, buildings and agriculture land. Nine bridges had swept away. But the administration drew no lesson and no preventive measure was taken. As a result 59 villages washed away in Joshiyana area only this year. The number of school, houses, temples and other buildings is still being counted.
I, along with RSS workers, spent many days in the Ganga Valley area of Uttarkashi. In Bhatwadi block, 130 villages were totally destroyed and 50 hectares of agricultural land was swept away. In Dunda block, 27 villages were totally ruined and 90 hectares of agricultural land was swept away. In Chinyali block, 12 villages were ruined. Thus, a total of 169 villages totally ruined, while 95 villages were partially destroyed in this calamity. A total of 34,322 people belonging to 8150 families from 206 villages in Ganga Valley lost their property and became homeless. Twenty six big and small bridges swept away. 29 Government schools and colleges and 4 private school buildings were also damaged. Kalpkedar temple, in Gharali, Shiv Mandir in Augi and Ganeshwar Mahadev temple in Siror also lost their existence.
Undoubtedly, the government was nowhere in the relief and rescue operation. We started relief camps with essential commodities at many places of the affected areas. The people, who were coming on foot and were frightened of losing their lives, were taken to Sewa Ashram Relief Camp. They were given food, water and other essential things. After staying in the Ashram for few days, they were sent to safe places. Within two days (from June 18 to 19) we saved the lives of 4500 people. I, with the help of Vyapaar Mandal, also started a primary health centre at various places. Cooperation of Rotary Club and other social organisations was also sought by us. When the rescued people reached their home safe we felt very satisfied. We travelled on foot for extending every possible help to the people of remote villages, where no government help could reach. About 25 villages, which were badly affected, were provided help by us. On June 25, I along with BJP MP Maharani Raj Laxmi, toured the affected areas. We listened to their problems. The next day we reached Harshil where a relief camp was started by local Vanvasi women. The Sangh swayamsewaks contributed some amount so that the relief work could continue in a better way.
Next day we reached Dharali town, where about 45 hotels were damaged. People had run away to nearby forests. We arranged a JCB machine to remove the debris from the hotels and houses. This is how normalcy restored in the town. What the government was supposed to do was also done by the swayamsevaks. Not only this, 80 people in Gangotri were rescued with the help of the army. From there, we went to Jhala village by foot. Only the BPL people were being given some ration by the administration, but also arranged ration for the APL families also.
Then we reached Hori village where with the help of local people we cut down some tall trees and made a temporary bridge over a dangerously flowing river. The temporary bridge made of logs of trees helped the people and pilgrims in crossing the river and reaching safer places. The bridge over that river had been swept away in the floods. Similarly in Naluna village we provided people with quilts and blankets.