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In Kedarnath, life is a struggle between a silent prayer and constant fear

PUBLISHED ON JUL 08, 2016 09:39 AM IST

DEHRADUN/RUDRAPRAYAG: Tragedy can strike in a flash in a mountain state like Uttarakhand. It did, with vengeance, in 2013, throwing life out of total gear.

Retired army man Surinder Singh Negi had spent a substantial amount of his earnings constructing a house in Kedarnath’s Saimi village, located on national highway 58 that heads towards the shrine.

The village had 70 families till the 2013 flashfloods devastated the Valley. Incidentally, 2013 witnessed one of the worst floods due to rainfall following the cloudburst in Kedarnath.

The village tilts towards the Mandakini river and is identified as ‘khisakta’ or ‘jhukta’.

It had been declared unsafe by the administration but Negi has nowhere to move to.

As part of Uttarakhand government’s rehabilitation policy, the administration identified 861 affected families in the Kedarnath valley and sanctioned 5 lakhs for the rebuilding of fully damaged houses.

But many like Negi have not been able to build new homes even as property dealers are putting up billboards, ‘affordable plots’ at ‘safer places’ such as Dehradun.

Three years after the deluge, the administration has begun identifying beneficiaries who have taken the money but have not been able to shift.

“I have failed in identifying a plot I fear that the district administration will anytime slap a recovery notice,” says Negi who continues to live in an unsafe village. According to the government, there are 239 unsafe villages but three years after the devastating flashfloods, it is still to frame a policy on resettling the inhabitants of these villages.

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