It has apparently become a routine story for the mountain state Uttarakhand every monsoon, people living in the hills pass through the same trauma.
But despite repeated incidents, the pace of finding 'long term solutions' by the disaster mitigation and management department seems to be very slow. Records suggest 233 villages located in fragile areas are disaster-prone and they could face Uttarakashi-like situation any moment, which has witnessed 31 dead in the flash floods during last week.
Three years ago, during the monsoon, two villages, Jhakla and Leh in the remote Munsyari block in Pithoragarh district were completely washed off, with 45 people being killed. Villages in Uttarakashi district faced a similar disaster on last Saturday.
In 2010, several children were killed in a massive landslide in Bageshwar district. Earlier, the infamous cloudburst in Malpa in 1998 had killed 207 people, including 60 pilgrims en route to Kailash Mansarovar. Likewise, 15 villagers were killed in Burman village in a heavy landslide in Munsyari in 2007.
A government report says people of 85 villages need immediately relocation. However, so far relocation work is going on only in one village, Narayan Bagar in Rudraprayag district. This village had witnessed massive landslide in the recent past.
"We need Rs. 600 crore for relocating all villagers but we have only Rs. 50 lakh in our kitty," principal secretary (disaster management) Omprakash had told HT recently.
The disaster management and mitigation department is a crucial department but the lack of interest shown by the officials concerned indicates that 'it's no ones baby', say experts.
"No mechanism for early warnings has been developed in the state, we focus on geology but there are no takers for hydrology," observed Jay Singh Rawat, a senior journalist, adding "disaster management is no more than a face saving exercise".
"Disaster management is lip service in this state. As soon as an incident occurs, VIPs rush to that spot. They should be banned completely," said Avdhash Kaushal, chairperson RLEK.