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'Heavy rain' alert keeps Uttarakhand on its toes

Prithviraj Singh , Hindustan Times  Dehradun, July 15, 2014
First Published: 20:45 IST(15/7/2014) | Last Updated: 20:46 IST(15/7/2014)

The official machinery in Uttarakhand was put on high alert after the weatherman issued warning for "heavy rainfall" in the next three days, reviving memories of last year's deluge in the disaster-prone state.


Both the central and state meteorological departments have issued as many as four special weather bulletins since Monday night warning of heavy rainfall "especially in Uttarkashi and Chamoli districts".

The state has been experiencing intermittent rains since the monsoons arrived in these parts.

In June last year, a similar warning for "heavy rains" was followed by the unprecedented flash floods which had ravaged five districts and left nearly 5,000 dead. The unofficial death toll, however, was pegged around 10,000 as many bodies were never found.

The 'chardham yatra' – the annual pilgrimage by lakhs of devotees – has also been called off since Saturday in view of inclement weather.

Most of those who had perished last year were 'chardham' pilgrims.

Such has been the impact of the warning that even chief minister M Harish Rawat, who is still not fully fit after suffering a neck injury, has got into action to supervise the state's preparedness.

Asking all the 13 district magistrates to be on alert, Rawat has also asked the officials to comply with "every nuance" as spelled out by the meteorological department.

Six teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have already been deployed in six locations in the Kumaon and Garhwal regions.

The latest alert includes the five districts affected by last year's floods – Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi in the Garhwal region and Bageshwar and Pithoragarh in Kumaon region.

"Heavy rainfall could occur in Kumaon region especially in Pithoragarh, Champawat, Nainital, Almora and US Nagar districts," said the weather forecast for July 16, 17 and 18.

Raghav Langer, the disrict magistrate of Rudraprayag, confirmed the alert and said, "We are keeping a tab every happening owing to weather changes. Pilgrims are being taken care of and their movements are being monitored properly."

Landslides were reported on Sunday and Monday due to which traffic was held up on several arterial roads and highways in the state. Uttarkashi received 88 mm of rains on Tuesday followed by Dehradun which received 64 mm of showers.

more from Dehradun

‘Central aid to state rose in past 3 yrs, but growth slow’

The annual assistance from the Centre to the state has increased in last few financial years, according to official statistics, even though the Uttarakhand government has been firing salvos at the central government over it.
Two days ago, the state Congress unit demanded `4,000 crore financial assistance from the centre.
According to the central statistics office figures, the Centre released `4883.74 crores for the state in 2011-12. It released `4717.68 crores in 2012-2013. And in 2013-2014, it increased the assistance to `5418.60 crores.

Uttarakhand is one of the 11 Himalayan states which enjoy special category status besides Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
These special category states have to make part payment to the centre in lieu of getting funds for centrally-sponsored schemes.
Interestingly, on an average, central assistance has been substantial for the state though it has not helped Uttarakhand in increasing its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) which is total monetary value of goods and services produced by a state economy in a given year.
“GSDP depends on various factors like rate of savings and investments and overall business atmosphere. But that doesn’t mean the state does not need help,” said Surender Kumar, media in-charge for CM adding that the state needs more funds.
The figures for Uttarakhand GSDP growth at constant (2004-5) price (as on 01-08-2014) was 9.36% in 2011-12. It was 5.61% in 2012-13 and 5.65% in 2013-2014.
Sometime back Planning Commission constituted a committee to study development in hill states arising from management of forest land with special focus on creation of infrastructure, livelihood and human development.
The report of the committee was discussed in Internal Planning Committee meeting held in February this year.
A Planning Commission note claimed that IPC broadly endorsed the recommendations of the committee. The report has also been forwarded to states for further inputs.

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