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A year on, tragedy continues to haunt Uttarakhand

Dehradun/Lucknow: Time, it is said, is a great healer. For the hundreds of villagers in Uttarakhand who lost their homes and livelihoods in the flash floods last June 16 and for the thousands all over the country whose loved ones were washed away by the swirling waters, the passage of time has brought no solace. It has, however, added to their pain and anguish for nothing has changed in the hill state, touted as “Gods Own Land”.

Uttarakhand
Flash floods: Torrential rains in Uttarakhand caused flash floods that destroyed the town of Kedarnath in June 2013. Thousands of pilgrims and locals were swept away and many victims are still reported missing

Last year, when a glacier melted right behind the Kedarnath shrine and claimed thousands of lives, a lot was promised by the government to ensure more safety, lesser environmental damage and prompt rescue of those trapped in the difficult terrain between the route of the Char Dham Yatra — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. But, locals rue nothing much has changed.

The tragedy continues to haunt the devout, and it is not surprising that in the first 10 days of the Yatra, while 6,35,000 people had come last year, the number has barely touched 1,00,000 this year, an official said. The landslides and downpour on the Kedarnath-Badrinath route this year, too, stranded pilgrims who braved their fear and undertook the trek. The facilities at base camps are not reassuring enough, said a devotee from Bithoor in Kanpur, who has just returned after completing a trip to Kedarnath.

Most of the roads that were washed away in the disaster are far from being relaid, and whatever work the Indian Army’s Central Command did in the aftermath of the floods has not been completed at many places. Many villages marooned in the floods still seek financial help, and rue that their ration cards and other papers are yet to be made available.

Disaster strikes

7,000
The number of people reported dead or gone missing, never to be found in the tragedy

Rs 5.5 lakh
The ex-gratia amount announced by UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for the victims last year

1 lakh
The number of pilgrims that went on the Yatra this year. 6.35 lakh pilgrims had made the trip last year

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