It was exactly a year ago when massive flash floods devastated Uttarakhand. A large number of people were either killed or went missing. In a chat with HT’s Prithviraj Singh, chief minister Harish Rawat talks about the lessons learnt from the tragedy and the measures taken.
Here are the excerpts:
What lesson has the government learnt from the disaster?
To remain on alert and be ready with quick response teams to tackle any untoward incident are the basic lessons that the government needs to learn from the calamity.
We have taken several steps in this direction. We are creating a trained force. Besides upgrading the available equipment with us, we are also involving experts from central agencies like the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and the armed forces to equip our people with techniques for early responses.
What have you done for the safety of tourists who want to visit the state post disaster?
Well, we have to accept the bitter fact that the confidence of tourists cannot be restored so soon given the extent of the calamity. But we have succeeded in our endeavour to a certain extent this year.
My government has prepared a blueprint to launch a massive drive and attract pilgrims once again from across the country after the routes are rebuilt. We have created a new system to register the pilgrims embarking on the Char Dham yatra.
Besides this, we have also stationed mobile medical units at selected places. The government will also keep its systems and manpower, volunteer groups and rescue teams of the state police ready for quick response.
What have you done to rebuild the pilgrimage routes?
Work for reconstruction of devastated tourist routes and other roads are on across the state. We have succeeded in rebuilding roads right up to Rambara from Rishikesh.
This also includes the hostile road between Sonprayag and Gaurikund. Though work on this road is yet to be completed, we have created a safe pedestrian route from Rambara to Kedarnath Shrine via Lincholi and Kedarpuri as an alternative. Huge efforts are on and better results will come in few months.
Watch video: A year on Uttarakhand tragedy continues to haunt victims