September 2010

Flood relief in Uttarakhand

Late flash — we heard today (Sept 24) about disastrous flooding and landslides in the area where the Voice of Children project is. 150 dead, many homes destroyed, 20 villages around Almora alone totally ruined. Crops and topsoil have been completely washed away. The villagers are desperate. TRAS is sending emergency funds to our two partner NGOs, Aman and Vimarsh, who are doing valiant work getting relief supplies to the villagers. Contact the TRAS office at 1-604-224-5133 or if you would like to make a donation to help with this work, or donate online.

Appeal from Aman, our partner NGO in Almora:

An appeal to support relief work for victims of flood and landslides in Uttarakhand

Dear friends,

As you all are aware, being a Himalayan state Uttarakhand has always been prone to natural disasters, such as earthquack, landslide, food, cloud burst etc. The state has witnessed an unprecedented rain fall since last two months. The state has been at the receiving end for the past two months and a half, but the incessant rain between 16-19 Sep has wreaked havoc. More than 150 persons have lost their lives in various incidents since the onset of the monsoon.

The heavy rainfall continued for four days, from 16 September to 19 September, has resulted in all the rivers and rivulet getting over flooded causing serious and widespread destruction of lives and property in the state. There were several incidents of landslides and cloud bursts in whole state compounding the problems and sufferings of people, particularly the Kumaun division (Alomra, Bageswar ,Pithoragarh and Nainital districts) witnessed the worst ever loss of lives and property because of landslide, flood caused by cloud bursts at different places. Since all the roads got blocked due to the landslides, causing whole mountain region isolated and unapproachable which hampered the relief work. As per primary reports more than 80 persons lost their lives in various incidents of cloudburst, house collapse and floods as incessant rains continued to lash Uttarakhand. A large number of people living in Saryu, Pindar and Revati valleys have migrated to safer places on account of the continuing rains.

Almora faced the worst cases of deaths and devastation, nearly 20 villages have been totally devastated. The havoc wreaked by the current floods and torrential rains have claimed 36 lives in the district. Heavy rains have triggered the worst floods that Uttarakhand has seen in recent times. Authorities fear the toll may go up as relief workers are busy removing debris and trying to reach out to people trapped in far-off villages. In Almora nearly 20 villages have been totally devastated.

According to officials, 80 bodies have been recovered in the state. Of these, 36 were from Almora district alone, maximum impact was in Balta village, where half of the village disappeared. When our team reached the village 13 bodies were recovered by that time from this small village itself. There was a landslide and the village was completely wiped out almost all the peoples died.

After Almora, Nainital is worst affected. Nineteen deaths have been from Nainital, followed by eight in Haldwani, five in Chamoli and three in Uttarkashi.

The Nainital-Bhawali road was damaged in a massive landslide that was triggered by the uprooting of a large number of trees. The Machor-Jhakh road in Ranikhet and the road connecting Bhatraunj Khan and Betalghat were also closed for vehicular movement

Bageshwar district was among the worst-affected areas in the region with even communication facilities getting damaged. The Saung-Munar road and the Shama road have been damaged as boulders continue to fall on them. The other routes shut down for vehicle movement are Chami-Kwairali, Dafot, Garud, Pindari, Kanda and Takula roads where debris has accumulated following massive landslides. Large tracts of agricultural land with standing crops have been devastated.

More than 15 villages in the Saryu valley continue to face a severe food grain crisis. There is a shortage of wheat, jaggery, salt, sugar, cooking gas and kerosene.

As per official reports more than one million people and 3500 villages have been effected by floods, landslide. So far 160 deaths have been confirmed with more than 150 seriously wounded. Around 10,000 houses and buildings got damaged. The state is going to face the serious drinking water and food grain crises as crops in 22000 HA land got destroyed and 1200 drinking water schemes (out of 1522 schemes) have been damaged. The road transport is also badly effected which has placed many areas in isolation.

Immediately after hearing the news of massive destruction our teams consisting of Ms Nilima Bhatt, Mr. Shashi Shekhar, Ms Pushpa Joshi, Mr Mankoti, Mr Govind Singh Mehra, Mr Ramesh Tewari . Ms Kavita Badola, Mr. Jagat, Mr Bhuwan and other volunteers visited the worst effected areas in Almora district to took the stock of the situation. The team also contacted several government officials and social workers for arranging relief work.

The primary report of our team is as follows:

Balta-Bathi, Jakheta,Bhalula.Pilkha.Gadholi.Jogiyana, Jyoli, Falsema, Pakhuda, Chhaana, Lodhiya, Devali, Ujgal lat (All in Hawalbag block) , Asgoli, Jamau, Salakhola, Haldua, Rabali ,Chanoli,Basera, Bhet, Bachhet, Kumalt, Gywau and Naula (all in Dwarahat block), Dharigau, Khawar, Dyoli(all in Lamgada block), Khania, Paikhli, Jaina, Naugaon, Daholi, Kanauli, Manbajuna, Bhaurgaon, Simoli, Chaukuni, Mauna, Riyoni (all in Bhikiasain block), Melgaon, Danola, Bathiyar, Bhaisadi (all in Dhauladevi block) villages have suffered heavy loss. The entire crop has vanished and most of the houses are damaged, some of them unfit for living. The agricultural land washed away with landslide and flood, rendering most of them uncultivable for months. In Chaukhiya block landslide and flood in Ramganga & Kuthlar rivers destroyed several acres of agriculture land. The entire paddy crop along with river banks washed away.

Almora also suffered most loss of lives during this period….

Since most of the areas have been cut off from roads and there is mode of communication either, the exact assessment of the loss could only be made after when situation of communication improve.

The Hawalbagh block is one of the most badly affected block. So far 29 people have lost their lives. All roads are having become useless. Many houses have become unfit for living. In Gadholi village more than 50 % houses were destroyed totally. Around 20% houses have suffered heavy damage. 120 people have become homeless, and now have taken shelter in primary school.

The same situation is in other villages also. People have taken shelter in panchayati bhawans or school buildings. People are facing an acute crisis of food & drinking water. Sanitation and hygiene is another problem. Lack of electricity, ration & medical support has worsened their plights. Most of the people are still in trauma.

There is an urgent need to provide relief to the affected people. We are trying to mobilize relief materials such as medicines, foodgrain, kerosene oil, drinking water, temporary shelters, light etc for these villages. This can not be done alone. AMAN appeals to all its friends for providing relief materials.

Ishwari Bhawan,
West Pokharkhali,
Ranidhara Road, Almora

Raghu Tewari

Sambhota Schools Publishing Project, Dharamsala, India

The publication of Tibetan classical literature in a simplified format and written in the simpler Tibetan script (called umed) will help and encourage Tibetan children to improve their reading skills and learn more about their Buddhist culture. It will have an impact on preserving the Tibetan language and its rich literary heritage, and the books will be available to Tibetan children worldwide.

All Tibetan children in India follow the Indian curriculum and sit the Indian state examinations. The Tibetan schools in India are able to teach in Tibetan up to Grade 5, but after that, the children are taught in English and Hindi.

TRAS-funded books in umed script at the library at the Dekyiling Sambhota School

The Sambhota Tibetan Schools Society was established by the Department of Education of the Central Tibetan Administration of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in India in 1999 to look after a group of Tibetan schools in India and Bhutan. In India, the schools were set up independently from the Indian government school system in order to be able to teach Tibetan children in the Tibetan language throughout their school years, and to teach in depth the history and culture of Tibet. These schools also teach modern subjects, English and Hindi, and the children sit the state examinations. But the independence of these schools gives them the freedom to teach more Tibetan subjects.

Tibetan script comes in two forms, a simple script called umed, which children learn first, and then the more complicated script called uchen. Unfortunately, few children’s books are published in umed.

The Sambhota Schools Society wants to rectify this and publish in umed a series of 20 stories of classical Tibetan literature based on the Tokjyoe Paksam Trishin. These stories have been chosen by a panel of teachers and parents. The simplified umed version will familiarize children with the Tibetan classical literature during their primary school years in order to pave the way for higher learning in Tibetan at the secondary and college levels.

One thousand copies of each story will be printed and distributed to all the Tibetan schools in India, Nepal and Bhutan.  Tibetan children worldwide will be able to access the stories online as a free service.

TRAS-funded books in umed script at the library at the Chauntra Sambhota School

TRAS has agreed to publish as many of the series as possible by matching dollar for dollar on member donations. The printing of 1000 copies of one book in the series costs $730. A bequest to TRAS from a long-time donor has paid for five of the books, a TRAS member has paid for the sixth book in honour of her father and another member has honoured her children by paying for a book. We are grateful for their support.

December 2012: TRAS is happy to announce that the 20 books have now been published and distributed to all the Tibetan schools in India, Nepal and Bhutan.  Teachers and students alike are enjoying them. They will serve a very useful purpose. The Sambhota Tibetan Schools Society is working on creating an online version so that children in the Tibetan diaspora worldwide may also benefit.