June 2013

Flooding and Landslides in Uttarakhand

The flash flooding in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand is devastating the region with deadly landslides. Our partner NGO, AMAN, from Voice of Children, is mobilizing relief efforts (see letter below).  The villagers are desperate. TRAS is sending emergency funds to AMAN who are working hard to get relief supplies to the villagers. To help with this work, you can donate online (select Donate Now, and then under Fund/Designation, select “Uttarakhand Disaster Relief”). For more information, please contact the TRAS office at 1-604-224-5133 or info@tras.ca.

Dear friends,

The people of Uttarakhand still have to overcome the trauma of disaster in 2010. The recent flash floods have badly affected human lives and many people have lost their lives.  Some areas are completely washed away in massive landslides and floods.  The livestocks and their properties are washed away.

Thousands of people are displaced and thousands of people are marooned and trapped in the higher reaches though the army and Para- military are doing their best but the scale and magnitude of the disaster is beyond the preparation and imagination. If we could timely generate some resources such as shelter, food, etc, many vulnerable lives can be saved.

The most pathetic part is the marginalized people who are basically labourers; most underprivileged sections of the society have become most vulnerable.

As you all are aware, being a Himalayan state Uttarakhand has always been prone to natural disasters, such as earthquake, landslide, flood, cloud burst, forest fire etc. The state has witnessed flash floods since last few days and has been at the receiving end for the last week, but the incessant rain between 15 June to till now has wreaked havoc.

Approximately, 1000 people have lost their lives in various incidents since the onset of the monsoon.  The heavy rainfall 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 the whole state compounding the problems and sufferings of people, particularly the Rudraprayag, Chomoli, Utaarkashi, Pithoragarh, Alomra & Bageshwar districts witnessed the worst ever loss  of lives and property because of landslide, flood caused by cloud bursts at different places.

All the roads got washed out due to the landslides, causing whole mountain region isolation and unapproachable which hampered the relief work. As per media reports more than 1000 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 Mandakini, Bhagirathi, Ramganga, kali, Saryu, Pindar and Saryu valleys are affected and endangered to life and their properties.

Kedarnath valley of RudraPrayag, Badrinath and Pindar valley of chamoli, Jyosada of Uttarkashi , Dharchula of Pithoragarh , BesiyaChhana block of Almora, Rishikesh of Dehradun has been facing the worst cases of deaths and devastation, nearly 160 villages have been totally devastated. More than 70,000 pilgrims are stuck in different locations and have no food and shelter.  So far in accessible places the rescue team recovered 150 bodies and there are no confirm news from inaccessible places in higher reaches where thousands of thousands people are still trapped and marooned and the administration is fearing the worst death tolls.

It can cross the figure of thousand as during the pilgrimage season the people travel in flock and they use to take shelter in the tents, cave and open space. There is no mechanism to register the travellers. According to the media and government sources more than 70,000 people are missing.

Rambara town is washed away and 30 houses are collapsed in Augustmuni and Tilwara. In Dharchula-Pithoragarhs villages, 41 houses had turned into debris and at Tijam , Bheti, Shobhna, Gothi. Nine people and 105 cattle lost their lives. In the month of June the villagers of Pithoragad district who live near by the greater Himalaya, they used to go to collect local Himalayan herbs. They used to pitch the tent in the forest nearby Tejam the villagers have pitched 60 tents on the fearful night of the flash flood, as the report says more than 60 tents from Upper Himalaya of Tejam Villages in which only 7 tents are remained.

Media reports says only 9 deaths but other herbs collector are missing. 5 deaths are reported in district Almora. Landslides are reported in Buradhar and Khairkhet villages in Almora.  Villagers are forced to live in schools to save their lives.  In Pinder valley, near about 35 houses had collapsed in Narayan bagad, Tharali, Govind-Ghat villages.

People are in trauma and fear in whole states and thousands of peoples spending nights under the open sky.  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.  Indian Army and Para military forces are deployed for rescue operation.  Near about 10000 people are rescued by the forces. In Kedarnath, the helipad is destroyed, so rescue operation continued through rope support by helicopter. There is also danger of epidemic.

Due to the massive landslides all the basic infrastructure roads, water and electric supply is severely damaged. It will take time to get restored. Due to the blockage of the road most of the parts are completely cut off from the rest of the world.

Garhwal and Kumoun, both the region of the Uttarakhand are badly affected. People have taken shelter in panchayati Bhawans, school buildings and makeshift arrangements such as tents and temporary shelters. People are facing an acute crisis of food, drinking water, doctors and medicines, shelter and communication.  Sanitation and hygiene is another problem. There is large no. of children and old age people badly affected and have special need. Child protection and gender centric rehabilitation program is also required as a felt need.
There is an urgent need to provide relief to the affected people. We are trying to mobilize relief materials such as medicines, food grain, kerosene oil, drinking water, temporary shelters, light etc for affected area. Beside this urgent need, rehabilitation and risk reduction program are also important needs for people. 

This cannot be done alone. AMAN appeals to all its friends for providing relief support.

In Uttarakhand,
Raghu Tewari
West Pokharkhali,
Ranidhara Road, Almora

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