With a total of 11 reported dead and over 17 people missing – feared dead, Uttarakhand is in the news again, for all the wrong reasons. Heavy torrential rains took Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh and Chamoli district by surprise on the 1st of July, which consequently led to rising of water levels near the Nandaprayag area. In Bastadi village in Pithoragarh, dozens of residents are trapped in debris as many houses have reportedly sunk. The torrential rain also led to landslides and blockage of roads specifically in Chamoli.
“Heavy to very heavy isolated warnings have been issues for the next 48 hours for Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Bhageshwar districts. The next 48 hours are going to be very crucial for the State and moderate to heavy rainfall is predicted almost across the entire region”, said Dr. Bikram Singh, Scientist, Meteorological Centre, India Meteorological Department, Dehradun.
“Rather than using the term cloudburst, it would be more appropriate to term it as heavy or very heavy rainfall as a cloudburst is experienced only when there is 100 cm rainfall or more within an hour. Since the rain gauge data is still not available, it may be erroneous to term it as cloudburst”, opined Singh.
Chamoli is the worst affected as River Alaknanda crossed the danger level mark. The Rishikesh-Badrinath National Highway (NH-58) was blocked due to heavy rains and landslide near Devprayag. “We have deployed 150 people from our forces in the districts of Uttarkashi, Almora and Chamoli districts. At this moment, it is very difficult to estimate the exact number of deaths but special equipment is being used by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) forces along with its specialised team of structural engineers to detect people buried under the landslides in Uttarakhand”, stated Anil Shekhawat, Assistant Commandant, NDRF, New Delhi.
Singh added that, “heavy rainfall warnings were issued from 1st of July onwards. For the next 72 hours, predictions have been made of heavy to very heavy rainfall in few places that are adjoining the plain areas of Haridwar, Pauri Garhwal and Tehri Garhwal district and in the Kumaon region, Almora, Nainital and Chamba districts”.