Extreme Flash Flooding in the Himalaya Region
An extreme climatic event in India that had a very devastating effect on the country was the Uttarakhand Flash Floods in the Himalayan region that occurred in June 2013. The floods had a huge impact on the environment and thousands of people were killed and property worth millions was destroyed.
As a result of these flash floods, Uttarakhand faced an unprecedented tragedy. It is feared that many thousands were killed and missing and that the state could take years to get back to normalcy. The root causes that increased the human tragedy include unchecked and unplanned infrastructure development along the rivers and development of hundreds of hydro projects in this fragile zone. The flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand of June 2013 decisively proved the absence of any preventive and mitigation measures. The post disaster relief response was equally poor—more than 70,000 people are reported missing.
An early warning system, effective evacuation plans, and a responsive disaster management system would have prevented a massive loss of precious life. But they weren’t in place. Relatively inexpensive radar-based cloudburst forecasting technology would have given a three-hour warning. Now, the Government of India has constituted an Committee for Eco restoration and climate change initiatives for the Fragile Himalayas.
The goals of the Committee are to:
– Minimize construction of Hydro power plants and dams
– Stop illegal construction of tunnels and hotels
– Curtail the Char Dham yatra (Spiritual Tourism) for three years so that repair and restoration can be carried out
– Reduce the rate of deforestation