Man's greed triggered tragedy

Abhinav Madhwal

India, June 20 -- Contrary to reports blaming the Kedarnath disaster on cloudburst, the meteorological department has clarified that it was due to excessive rainfall.

The massive calamity in Kedarnath and Rambara area of Uttarakhand on June 15-16 was only magnified by illegal construction, deforestation and encroachments.

Director of Uttarakhand Meteorological Department Anand Sharma told HT on Wednesday, the department had forecast massive rains in the area between June 15 and 17 in the upper reaches which could lead to massive landslides there.

But, the state government did not take immediate measures to prevent loss of lives.

However, the heartening news is that the entire state will witness light to moderate showers in the next 48 hours. Days would be more or less sunny.

Although, there is slight possibility of increase in cloudiness after June 22, said Sharma.

According to Sharma, conditions for cloudburst develop after 100 mm of rain is achieved within one hour. But this did not happen in the Kedarnath area.

It may be noted, there is no rain gauge in the Kedarnath area and the nearest one is at the district headquarters of Rudraprayag, which is around 90 km before Kedarnath.

Rudraprayag received 92 mm rain on June 16, while Dehradun received 390 mm on the same day. Sharma says that a downpour between 121 to 250 mm is considered as very heavy rainfall.

Kedarnath, however, received heavy rains and the situation was compounded by the fact that natural passages of water coming down the hill, nullahs and streams, had been blocked by erratic construction and encroachment.

The Himalayas are said to be young fold mountains and the hills are weaker with loose soil, which explains the massive landslides in the region.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.