Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Focus on Uttarakhand

"I do believe that the time has come for a paradigm shift in disaster management from a 'relief-centric' and 'post-event' response, to a regime that lays greater emphasis on preparedness, prevention and mitigation"
-  Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
1st India Disaster Management Congress (29Nov2006)
Vigyan Bhavan
New Delhi

STH has been following the events in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh (HP) states of India closely.
The death toll has notched up steadily and now stands at 130 with 500 people missing and  73,000 (many of them pilgrims visiting  holy Hindu places in the mountains) stranded at many places.

Here are some facts on the rainfall :-
  •  Most of the rainfall came down between 15-17Jun2013.
  •  Dehradun recorded an astounding 338mm of rainfall in 24hrs on 17Jun2013 (see AWS data above).
  • For the period 01Jun-18Jun2013, Uttarakhand rainfall was 440% above the normal and that of HP was 316% above normal (see map above). 
  • In these 18 days, Uttarakhand and HP have received more than 31% and 20% of the rainfall for the entire 4 month monsoon period.
  • The monsoons have just started and we still have more than 3 months of heavy rains ahead and extreme events, the world over are becoming more frequent!
Having followed this keenly, I am filled with a sense of dread because we went thru this entire grim scenario last year when Uttarakhand was battered by rain and landslides in August and Sep2012.
Meanwhile, the blame game has started. But living in a land where destiny, fate and karma can just as easily be held culpable, I doubt if we will ever get down to a more serious way of managing our disasters.
Pity, we never seem to learn and the PM's wonderful words, spoken 7 yrs ago in the 1st India Disaster Congress ring hollow.

Praful Rao,

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