If the extraordinary swell of the Ganges had not mowed down everything that came in its path, be it temple, road, building or bridge, then for Uttarakhand too, this would have been a day of celebration. For Tuesday is Ganga Dussehra, a day when Ganga is said to descend to the earth from her hidden abode. Some say to purge. Not many doubted it with scenes like these washing over Uttarkashi and other places.
And Uttarkashi is the district take-off point for Gangotri, from where the Ganga descends.
Less than a week ago the Chief minister of Uttarakhand was in Delhi asking for a review of a recent notification declaring vast stretches between Gaumukh to Uttarkashi in the state as an eco-sensitive zone.
A PTI report of June 5 says, ‘Citing ongoing protests by locals against the Centre's recent notification declaring the area as eco-sensitive, the Chief Minister said the move will adversely affect the infrastructure projects underway in the border area which is highly sensitive to natural calamities.’
While the term ‘natural calamity’ will need a closer scrutiny and response in the months and years to come - just a basic check of something more immediate hits a wall. Hearing about the Char Dham yatra being suspended, I tried getting more information on the official Uttarakhand site on yatris and here’s what I got.
A big fat literal 0!
I do hope another 0 on another government website is more accurate though. According to the Met department, the weather forecast for much of Uttarkashi and Rudraprayag districts, both badly hit, is - 0mm rainfall (for the rest of this week).
As the early spread of the Indian monsoon is decoded in the days to come, this too unfolds as one more page in a Himalayan diary of disasters. Meanwhile as Harbhajan Singh, the cricketer returning from Hemkund Sahib, is safely at the ITBP camp at Joshimath, we hope the thousands stuck across the char dhams, too find their way home soon. And safely.
Helpline numbers by the Uttarakhand state govt
Chamoli 01372-251437, 01372-1077
Rudraprayag Disaster Management Toll Room 1077 / 01364-233727