Decade Since Kedarnath Disaster, Assessing the Changes Over Time

Kedarnath Disaster 2013: June 16-17, 2013, the dates that stunned the entire nation. It was the day when the religious town of Baba Bholenath, Kedarnath experienced a devastating disaster that unfolded a shocking tale of a holocaust, ten years past.
Decade Since Kedarnath Disaster, Assessing the Changes Over Time
Decade Since Kedarnath Disaster, Assessing the Changes Over Time

Kedarnath Disaster 2013: On June 16-17, 2013, a fateful event unfolded, leaving the entire nation in utter shock. It was during these dates that Kedarnath, a religious town of Baba Bholenath, and one of Uttarakhand's Char Dhams, tragically encountered catastrophic floods that devastated the region.

Thousands of people died in the floods, hundreds of people had gone missing and some of them have not been traced till today.

It’s been 10 years but the people who saw that terrific scene can never forget it and the wounds of those who suffered are still alive.

On the tenth anniversary of the devastating incident, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami on Friday (June 16) visited the Himalayan temple and reverently offered prayers, while also paying homage to the victims.

What were the Reasons Behind the Disaster Occuring?

Uttarakhand state had experienced unusual amounts of rain between June 13 and 17. This caused the Chorabari glacier to melt and the Mandakini River to erupt.

Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Western Nepal were heavily affected by the floods. Heavy rain caused flash floods and landslides, killing people and damaging property.

The Kedarnath Valley, home to a popular 8th-century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, was reportedly hit hardest. Over 5,000 people died in the floods.

According to a report by environmentalist Chandra Prakash Kala, “the approximate cost of damaged bridges and roads was $285 million, dam projects worth $ 30 million, and loss to state tourism worth $195 million.”

The 2013 floods were triggered by a combination of natural causes, including cloudbursts, landslides, and snowfall. However, solely attributing blame to nature would be incomplete, as human actions played a significant role in this massive calamity.

Our mismanaged tourism practices, uncontrolled construction of hotels, lodges, roads, and other construction projects in the Himalayan remote areas is also one of the many reasons behind this Disaster.

Role of Government in Managing the Disaster of Kedarnath

  • The government is responsible for maintaining and operating early warning systems that can detect and alert people about impending disasters. In the case of Kedarnath, there were deficiencies in the existing warning systems, and improvements were subsequently made to enhance their effectiveness.

  • The government deployed various agencies such as the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and state police to conduct search and rescue operations. These teams worked tirelessly to evacuate stranded individuals, provide medical assistance, and recover bodies from the affected areas.

  • The government initiated relief measures to provide immediate assistance to the affected population. This included the distribution of food, water, medical supplies, and temporary shelter to those displaced by the disaster.

  • After the disaster, the government undertook efforts to rebuild damaged infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and buildings. This was crucial for restoring connectivity and facilitating the movement of relief teams and supplies to the affected areas.

  • Initiatives such as reforestation, soil conservation, and mitigating the risks of future disasters through proper land-use planning were also taken.

  • The Kedarnath disaster prompted the government to reassess existing policies related to development and infrastructure in ecologically sensitive areas. There was an increased focus on balancing development with environmental conservation and implementing stricter regulations to prevent uncontrolled construction in vulnerable regions.

It is important to note that while the government's response played a significant role, there were also criticisms regarding inadequate preparedness, delayed response, and lack of coordination during the initial phases of the disaster. These shortcomings led to a significant loss of life and damage. Subsequently, efforts were made to address these shortcomings and improve disaster management strategies.

By: Anjali Tyagi

Decade Since Kedarnath Disaster, Assessing the Changes Over Time
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