India

A Study on Flash Floods and Landslides Disaster on 3rd August 2012 along Bhagirathi Valley in Uttarkashi District, Uttarakhand

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Preface

The monsoon period i.e., June to September is infamous for causing catastrophic and devastating disasters due to cloudbursts, flashfloods and landslides in the hilly terrains, particularly the habituated areas of Himalaya. However, such events also happen during other periods of the year as well, when heavy to very heavy precipitation occurs on susceptible slopes with poor drainage system. Besides the natural factors like geodynamically active seismic belt, immature topography and high to very high intensity rainfalls, the role of human beings in aggravating the impacts of these catastrophic events cannot be over-sighted. The increasing concentration of population over susceptible unstable slopes and ill-developed planning / mining / construction of habitations as well as highways, infrastructure in close proximity with the rivers or footslopes without proper protective measures have added to the woes of the people who suffer from the impacts of these hazardous events. The victims include the local community, pilgrims, tourists, trekkers, labourers, shopkeepers and visitors in the affected locality and indirect impacts are faced by people who depend on trading / resources from these hills.

In addition to the haphazard and unscientific developments, lack of adequate disaster risk reduction measures and in efficient disaster management system, results in chaotic and adverse approach leading to delayed and poor risk management. Thus, it is the dire need of the society to revamp the whole system of development and disaster risk management in a proper systematic and scientific way so that incidences and the adverse impacts of such catastrophic events on humanity, environment development and resources can be reduced. The present study of recent disasters (flashfloods and landslides) in the Upper Bhagirathi valley of Uttarkashi district in Uttarakhand, India is an endeavour in this direction.

The present document provides an insight on the incidences of past disasters, and administrative, demographic, socio-economic and infra-structure perspective of the Uttarkashi district for assessing the vulnerability and capacity of the district in disaster risk reduction. The author has also attempted to discuss the causes and consequqneces of the recent event along with the response by various stakeholders. The report summarises the lessons learnt achieving and recommends measures that would be useful in devising strategies for achieving disaster risk reduction.

The readers are requested to provide their free and frank opinion about the usability of this report vis-a-vis its aims and objectives. Any good and practically acceptable suggestion which would help in strengthening our efforts towards disaster risk reduction would be welcome.

Surya Parkash, Ph.D.
Head Knowledge Management & Communication Division,
NIDM, New Delhi
E-mail : suryanidm@gmail.com