Meteorological officials announced the arrival of monsoon in Uttarakhand on Tuesday and issued a warning of heavy rainfall in parts of the state in the next two days.
While the state disaster management agency has braced itself for any emergency triggered by rain, the people associated with tourism industry are keeping their fingers crossed that the weather change doesn’t affect tourist inflow.
The tourism industry that was badly hit in the wake of the 2013 flash floods has seen a steady revival in the last couple of years.
“The southwest monsoon has advanced into most parts of Uttarakhand today, with its northern limit passing through Dehradun and Pantnagar (in Kumaon region),” said Bikram Singh, director of the Dehradun meteorological centre.
Normally, monsoon arrives in Uttarakhand around the third or fourth week of June and hence its advent this year is being considered on time, he told HT.
The Met centre has warned of heavy rainfall at isolated places, especially in Udham Singh Nagar, Champawat, Pithoragarh and Nainital districts in the Kumaon region and Pauri, Haridwar and Dehradun districts in the Garhwal region, till Thursday noon.
Last year, monsoon had set in over Uttarakhand on June 24 and the state received 881.6 millimeters of rainfall, which was 28% less than the normal rainfall (1229.2 mm) for the June-September period. Ten of the 13 districts had received deficient rain in 2015.
Timely and even distribution of monsoon rain is considered crucial to the state’s agriculture.
The arrival of monsoon is also considered critical to the Char Dham Yatra – the pilgrimage to the Hindu shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri – and the Sikh pilgrimage of Hemkund Sahib in the Garhwal region. Over 10.76 lakh pilgrims have visited the holy shrines so far since the commencement of the pilgrimage season on May 9. Inclement weather this month has already disrupted the pilgrimage intermittently, blocking the Badrinath and Gangotri highways.
In 2013, heavy rain and flash floods resulted in widespread disaster in the state, leaving over 5,000 dead and thousands displaced.
Additional director (tourism) AK Dwivedi, however, said the state government is hoping that the momentum of pilgrim inflow continues even after the monsoon arrival this year. “We are coordinating with other departments to ensure that the pilgrim influx does not get affected,” he said.
The authorities have made arrangements to deal with the erratic rains. Seventeen search and rescue teams have been deployed in different parts of the state to deal with any emergency situation triggered by heavy rainfall.
Santosh Badoni, deputy secretary of the disaster management department, said teams of national and state disaster response force have already been deployed in the sensitive zones. Emergency shelters for pilgrims and optional routes - in case of landslides blocking roads - have also been identified on each of the yatra routes, he added.