Essay About Uttarakhand Disaster Rescue

Flash floods, cloud burst, heavy rainfall and landslides have caused a huge devastation in the state of Uttarakhand. Many people have lost their lives in this natural calamity. The Union and State government agencies have employed all resources to help the victims. National Portal of India has compiled all information related to relief and rescue operations, helpline numbers, rescued persons, control room numbers etc. at one place.

Uttarakhand Disaster Missing Cell Disaster Managment and Rescue Center Uttarakhand Secretariat, Deharadun

For Providing Information Regarding "Missing People" you may please contact


Email    missingcell[dot]uk[at]gmail[dot]com



Contact Details

Missing Cell Telephone Numbers    0135-2104175, 0135-2104176,0135-2104180, 0135-2104181

Dr. Ajay Kumar Pradyot, Secretary/Incharge, Missing Cell    0135-2712092

Mrs. Nidhi Mani Tripathi, Additional Secretary/Co-Incharge, Missing Cell    0135-2714389

State Emergency Operation Center,Secretariat Compound, Uttarakhand Secretariat,4,Subhash Road, Dehradun-248001

Helpline Numbers

Rescue and Relief Helpline Numbers    0135-2710334, 2710335, 2718401-04

Disaster Control Room, Police Headquarter Helpline Number    0135-2717300, 09411112985

Train Helpline Number at Haridwar Station    09760534054, 09760537047

District Disaster Control Room Numbers

Yamnotri - Gangotri - Uttarkashi    01374226461, 9675082336, 7500337269

Kedarnath - Rudraprayag    01364233727, 01364233610, 01364233995, 9412914875

Hemkund Sahib - Badrinath - Chamoli    01372251437, 01372253785,9411352136

Dehradun - Rishikesh    01352726066, 9760316340, 9412992363

Tehri Garhwal    01376233433, 9412076111

Pauri Garhwal    01368221840, 8650922213

Almora    05962237874, 9411378137

Pithoragarh    05964228050, 9412079945

Haridwar    01334223999, 9837352202

Bageshwar    05963220197

Nainital    05942231179, 9456714092

Udhamsingh Nagar    05944250719, 9410376808

Devastating floods in Uttarakhand were a disaster waiting to happen

By Anoop Nautiyal

Published: 23:49 GMT, 26 June 2013 | Updated: 23:49 GMT, 26 June 2013

Uttarakhand is in shambles. Disaster, with most people calling it more man made than natural, has exposed the fragility of this beautiful, yet ecologically vulnerable region. Though the fury of nature has been unprecedented, many questions are being asked about the role of the state government.

These questions, based on equal doses of frustration, sadness and anger, are mainly being raised about the lack of disaster preparations and the development model pursued by the government.

By now several facts are well known. The Uttarakhand Disaster Management Authority, constituted under the chairmanship of the chief minister, has had no meetings in the past six years. Successive CAG reports have made scathing remarks on the lack of disaster management preparations in the state. Indiscriminate mining, haphazard urbanisation, rampant cutting of trees and forest covers, use of dynamites for road construction, encroachments, buildings, hotels, guest houses and travel lodges on the river bed, too many hydropower projects, changing river courses, poor structural safety - this was clearly a Himalayan tsunami waiting to happen.

The Kedarnath Temple amid damaged surroundings by flood waters at Rudraprayag in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand this week

Locals in the affected areas claim that this is only the trailer of the massive destruction that is lurking in this region of the country. Many are calling it a 'Human Tsunami'. Uttarakhand is prone to frequent flash floods, landslides and cloud bursts. Climate change is impacting rainfall and cloud bursts in the Himalayan region which have already seen increase in temperature that are two to three times higher than the average global temperature rise of 0.9 degrees.

Against this background, the state has miserably failed to develop any systems of early warning, forecasting and disseminating rainfall and landslide related information. Technology is available that can predict cloud bursts at least three hours in advance but no such sophisticated equipment is used in the state.

In 2008, the Doppler radar system was sanctioned for Uttarakhand but due to lack of coordination between NDMA, IMD and the Uttarakhand government, it was not purchased.

There are other challenges. Uttarakhand is politically as fragile as its mountain ranges. With six different individuals holding the chief minister position during the last 13 years, since the formation of the state in 2000, the average tenure of each has been two years. This has resulted in lack of continuity and failure in getting a firm grip on the issues plaguing the state.

Locals in the affected areas claim that the floods are only the trailer of the massive destruction that is lurking in this region of the country

These figures look even more ominous when compared with Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand's Himalayan neighbour. Himachal has had five chief ministers during the past 60 years. Only two, Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal, have held the reign of the state since the past 20 years.

The political fragility has resulted in ad-hoc and unplanned development. Successive governments have failed in creating any sort of medium term or long-term plan or vision for the state. Most decisions appear unconnected and lack coherence. They are mostly random in nature and pander to the demand of the moment. Political instability and inexperience have also resulted in lack of articulation about the firm and correct position to be taken by the state in several matters that are most important for them. Programmes and policies are started but often get stopped due to frequent changes. In this scenario how is sustained development possible?

Who is responsible? Clearly, the major defaulter is the political leadership of the state and the government of the day. The political leadership in Uttarakhand, with the exception of a few distinguished and sincere politicians, is widely perceived as being either corrupt and/or incompetent. Internal squabbles hardly leave any time for senior party leaders to give any quality time for public issues, strategic planning and the long-term development of the state.

Just before the massive disasters struck Uttarakhand, five MLAs of the ruling party were camping in Dehradun, for a few days, protesting against their own government and complaining about the lack of development in their respective constituencies. Bureaucracy is being adversely affected. When politicians frequently complain that bureaucrats are not listening to them and the bureaucrats retort that the politicians do not let them work, the leadership deficit at the highest levels becomes clear.

The government is now staring at mammoth challenges. They need to act and act quick on multiple fronts. As Uttarakhand continues to grapple with inclement weather affecting rescue operations and identification and disposal of dead bodies, the next set of action items need to be ready. Detailed impact assessment of affected areas and the learnings from this tragedy need to be documented. Immediate compensation of the locals needs to be finished on a war footing. Roads and bridges need repairs. Hospitals and food supplies need strengthening. Livelihoods dependent on the Char Dham Yatra need to be restored. It's a long list that requires serious planning, coordination and execution.

What next? Where does Uttarakhand finally move from here? This is not only a time to mourn, but also to reflect and create a blueprint for its future and destiny. The policy makers can move in either of the two directions-either follow the path that they have taken earlier and rebuild Uttarakhand on the poor foundation of unscrupulous and unplanned development. Or take a radical, new path and come up with a innovative and inclusive model of development built on the foundation of modern disaster management techniques and equal concern for the environment and livelihoods. This needs to be the starting point for this development strategy. This path will further require an open mind, belief in science and technology, exemplary leadership and genuine compassion and empathy for Uttarakhand. Let's see who is listening and will stand up to the challenge.

(The writer is the former COO of 108 government emergency services in Uttarakhan)

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