State: Reconstructing Kedarnath Will Be a Task
One year of Kedarnath flash-flood disaster has passed, and it serves as an occasion to take stock of the work done by the state government headed now by self-righteous and pretentious Chief Minister Harish Rawat.
The deadly sludge that entombed the entire Kedarnath town on the evening of June 16 and the morning of June 17 last year within 24 hours devastated the whole town and everything else that came its way. But even after a year has passed, the people in the flood- affected regions of Garhwal and Kumaon regions are still crying hoarse for help. Most of the broken roads, damaged treks and bridges washed by the ferocious flashfloods are yet to be completed.
The yatra season has approached, but, the trek to Kedarnath shrine is yet to complete, which reflects the state government’s apathy and incompetence in taking measures to restore the trek. Close to 1,378 pilgrims will be visiting the state this years, but, still many stretches of motor routes and treks sremain highly precarious to tread.
According to an estimate more than 4000 local persons are still missing in Uttarakhand, while most others have been rendered crippled for rest of their lives. More than 1800 villages were washed away by the flash-flood, about 3600 families rendered homeless, more than 150 bridges and 1700 kms long roads were washed away.
The UPA Government has already granted Rs 8000 crore relief package to Uttarakhand, in addition to collection of vast donations from big corporate houses, NRIs, NGOs, government departments like railways, agriculture, Air Force, Navy, and all and sundry. State BJP president Tirath Singh Rawat said even when the chief minister has never disclosed the amount of money he has received in donations, still CM Rawat made a demand on May 20 of an additional package of Rs. 4000 crore from the new NDA government for the rehabilitation and reconstruction works in 263 vilages, saying that Rs.8000 crore sanctioned by Manmohan Singh-led government was not enough. Meanwhile, the President of Badrinath and Kedarnath Temples Committee Ganesh Godiyal has alsocollected donations from the devotees amounting to Rs. 2000 crore in the name of reconstruction of Kedarnath shrine. In this fund also, there has been vast scale misappropriations and embezzlements.
As for the last year’s death toll, which however remained a vague conjecture, the state government then headed by chief minister Vijay Bahuguna never gave out the true figures. However, in an affidavit filed before the Uttarakhand Human Rights Commission headed by Justice Virendra Jain in Dehradun in September 2013, DIG Sanjay Gunjiyal admitted that following Kedarnath devastation, a total number of 1786 FIRs were filed in the entire state about disappearance of 6812 victims. The affidavit adds whereas 529 bodies have been recovered from Kedar valley alone, a total of 628 bodies were recovered from the entire state including Kumaon region. These dead include both—the pilgrims/tourists and the local residents. However, no FIRs were registered in connection with the death of sadhus. A vast majority of bodies, however, could not be identified, because of a massive bungling in the identification process.
No compensation has been given to them, as the ‘missing’ persons have not been declared dead due to a legal process which takes no less than seven years to declare them as the ‘dead’. However, the number of FIRs and deaths provided by the DIG in his affidavit is far from being complete. A vast number of other FIRs have never been registered.