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Flashfloods: Infrastructure crumbles in Uttarakhand

June 24, 2013 10:10 IST

Flashfloods: Infrastructure crumbles in Uttarakhand

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Shishir Prashant in Dehradun

In the wake of killer flashfloods and landslides in Uttarakhand, infrastructure in the hill state has taken a big hit.

“A vast network of roads and bridges has been damaged. It will take two-three years to rebuild the entire infrastructure,” Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said even as relief and rescue operations continued despite intermittent rains in the hills today.

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Image: A pilgrim is helped by a villager as she tries to cross on a pathway damaged by landslide in Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Flashfloods: Infrastructure crumbles in Uttarakhand

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According to initial assessments, the government will need at least Rs 10,000 crore for reconstructing  damaged roads and bridges in the worst-affected districts of Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh.

But, the government is still to make an assessment and send a report to the Centre for a comprehensive package. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already announced a package of Rs 1,000 crore after making an aerial survey of the affected areas this week.

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Image: Pilgrims are helped to climb over a hill by Army soldiers during a rescue operation at Govindghat in Uttarakhand.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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Flashfloods: Infrastructure crumbles in Uttarakhand

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According to the state government, 147 bridges have been washed away completely in the state. More than 1,300 roads in different locations have suffered extensive damage, blocking connectivity to most of the places in the four districts.

“It will be an uphill task for us to reconstruct our road network, which stands shattered in the heavy rains and floods,” said state disaster management minister Yashpal Arya.

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Image: A displaced girl sleeps outside her makeshift tent at a camp by the roadside after a rise in the waters of the river Yamuna after heavy rains in New Delhi
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters,

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Flashfloods: Infrastructure crumbles in Uttarakhand

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The state government has not yet started focusing on local villages in the four districts, which have suffered extensive damages too. “Our first focus is to save all those who are still stranded. After this, we will focus on local problems,” said a top government official.

A massive road rehabilitation programme has already been taken up by the Border Road Organization (BRO) in the state. The BRO has already pressed 4,000 men into action at various areas, with bulldozers and other equipment.

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Image: A child is carried by soldiers to help him climb down a hill during a rescue operation at Govindghat in Uttarakhand.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters.

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Flashfloods: Infrastructure crumbles in Uttarakhand

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The big challenge before the BRO men will be to restore roads and bridges in the highly fragile zones of Gangotri and Badrinath, where landslides are frequent during the monsoon.

“Every year, these roads suffer huge damages and are rebuilt. But this time, the loss is enormous,” said a BRO official. The first task will be to restore connectivity on the roads of the Char dham yatra circuit, which might take one-two years, the official added. 

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Image: The Kedarnath Temple (C) is pictured amid damaged surroundings by flood waters at Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand.
Photographs: Reuters.

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Besides roads and bridges, a series of under-construction hydel projects have been damaged in the Rudraprayag area, which belong to companies like L&T Hydro, Lanco Group and UJVN Ltd.

Scores of hotel buildings, particularly in Uttarakashi, Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts have been destroyed completely.

A couple of rest houses run by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam and Kumaon Mandal Vikash Nigam have suffered extensive damages, said A K Dwivedi, joint director of the state tourism department. “The losses of the tourism sector are immense and it will take a long time to assess the situation,” said state tourism minister Amrita Rawat.


Image: Damaged houses are seen at a village in Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters.

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