Translated from Sitaram Bahuguna’s report from Srinagar, Uttarakhand on the Uttarakhand flood in Hindi.
The apocalyptic flood in the Alaknanda showed its destructive dance in Srinagar (Uttarakhand). A large part of the town is completely damaged. The flood has ruined the SSB Academy area and ITI area. About a hundred families living in some 7 residential huildings are now homeless. These residential buildings have 10-12 feet of debris in them. None ofhold goods have remained usable. Dr. Umashankar Thapliyal, a senior journalist who had reported the Belakuchi lood in 1970 is of the opinion that the flood at that time was of similar intensity, but the damage was not as much.
The Srinagar Hydro Electric power project is responsible for the terrible destruction in Srinagar. GVK company developing the project has dumped lakhs of tons of mud on the banks of the Alaknanda from the dam site at Koteshwar to Kikileshwar. The width of the river was reduced due to this. The flood on the 16th and 17th started eating away at this mud, due to which the level of the water rose by up to two meters. At the Seema Surakasha Bal Academy area, where the flood has wreaked destruction, the river curves like the English letter “N” and the width of the river suddenly decreases ahead of that. It is due to this that when the flood came on that day and it brought with the the lakhs of tons of soil from the Srinagar Hydro Electric Project, it could not flow ahead from the area in the quantities it reached. Consequently this tremendous amount of mud started settling back in the SSB Academy, ITI and Vijay Nagar areas. When the flood waters receded, people were in disbelief. 70 residential homes, half the SSB Academy campus, the IT and Shakti Vihar areas, grain storage, gas storage, silk farms had up to 12 feet of mud accumulated! Many residential buildings are buried in the debris to their roofs. The life’s earnings of the people living in these homes has been leveled.
One of the affected, Vinod Uniyal says that this flood has deposited eight feet of debris inside his home. Household goods and life’s earnings stand finished. He is not able to understand how he will survive in the future. Santosh Chandra Naitiyal, who made a living running the ration shop in Shakti Vihar has been twice devastated. His home and shop both lie buried in the debris. Now he faces a crisis of income as well.
S. Bandopadhyay of the SSB Academy estimates that the damage in the Academy itself amounts to 100 crores. With this as a gague, it seems that the damage in the Srinagar area will could up to 300 crores.
Apart from this, in Devprayag as well, many government and residential buildings stand mired in debris. The lakhs of tons of soil illegally dumped in the river by the Srinagar Hydro Electric Project has now vanished and the river bank is looking like it used to, before the soil was dumped. Srikot too has several buildings next to the river, but it escaped the destruction because most of the soil had been dumped a little below the village from Chouras Jhula up to Kikileshwar. This saved Srikot from being destroyed as well.
Geologist Dr. D. P. Sati estimates that the hydro Electric projects in the valley have a major role in the destruction wreaked.
5 lakh metric tons of soil was dumped in the Alaknanda riverbank for the Srinagar Hydro Electric project. When the flood came, this mud merged with the water under pressure and the volume of the water increased dramatically. Because this mud was placed directly in front of Srinagar, the lower parts of Srinagar accumulated it as it settled and became the cause of ruin.
(The Srinagar Hydro Electric project for 330MW of electricity, at about 30 kilometers from Devprayag on the Alaknanda has been constructed in blatant violations of all environmental norms and solely on political clout. We can provide more information if needed. ~ Vimalbhai)