In the wake of last year's killer flashfloods, then chief minister Vijay Bahuguna had assured people living in 200 high-risk villages of the state will be relocated to safer places as soon as possible. The government, however, is struggling to take the first step – identifying land for rehabilitation of these villages.
More than 5,000 people died and scores of settlements were washed away in the catchment of the Kedar valley. In the relocation proposal, the government had included the villages that were prone to natural disasters.
While the monsoon rains are set to lash the Himalayan hills in the next couple of days, acting head of the government Indira Hridayesh said the authorities concerned were in the process of identifying land for relocating the villages.
"Relocation of these villages to alternate and safer locations is the government's top priority. We also have the option of creating safety measures at existing places or relocating the people some distance away in the same area. Relocating villages to plain areas will be the third option," said Hridayesh.
She said it is difficult to fix a time frame for shifting the populations of these villages as "it depends on weather conditions and other technicalities."
Besides, she added, villages in higher reaches cannot be vacated completely of human settlements for strategic reasons. Uttarakhand shares border with China.
In its assessment of the 'Himalayan Tsunami', the Geological Survey of India recently recommended stabilisation of hill slopes, restoration of roads and relocation of affected villages. It had identified 419 land-slide prone sites after a team of 18 geologists and geophysicists traveled to 274 villages for the study.