Uttarakhand, The Land of Gods, turned into the home of corrupts bureaucrats and a state of the failed governance. Harish Rawat, the man who failed to prove his administrative skills. He failed to make “corrupt” administrative machinery work or take action against the guilty to repose faith in the common man. A man surrounded by lickers, Chaploos and by the same set of bureaucrats and his close political aides who are not above board. Except for holding Cabinet meetings in Kedarnath, Gairsain and Almora to show pro-people image of his government working at the grassroots level and announcements of development and welfare schemes, nothing much has moved at the ground level. Most of the announcements are hidden in official files or forgotten.
Imapct of Harish Rawat
In recent years Uttarakhand has emerged as a failed state due to poor governance and babudom. CM Harish Rawat seems to be under certain pressure from top leadership of Congress, that prevented him from taking actions or bring culprits to justice and this is a matter to be discussed.
CAG Report over Natural Disaster of 2013
As per CAG report it was the Uttarakhand government’s slow response aggravated Kedar disaster that caused widespread destruction in five hill districts of the state and led to thousands of people being killed, and property worth hundreds of crores destroyed.
Uttarakhand had witnessed two major landslides in Uttarkashi and Rudraprayag districts in 2012 which had resulted in the loss of 92 lives. “Even at that time, the government had failed to take cognizance of the underlying risk factors and undertake corrective measures”. During the time of disaster the government machinery remained virtually clueless about the state of affairs in the affected areas and its response thereafter was grossly inadequate given the scale of destruction brought about by the disaster. District administration remained numb despite warnings issued by the Met department about the possibility of heavy to very heavy rainfall over the higher reaches of Kedarnath, Badrinath and surrounding areas.
Hands for Help
To mitigate the woes of the flood victims at Kedarnath, volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) constituted an ‘Uttaranchal Dyvi Aapada Peeditha Sahayata Samithi’, which were actively involved in flood-relief works through its 10 offices set up at various affected areas.
These offices were set up at flood-affected areas of Haridwar, Rishikesh, Srinagar, Rudra Prayag, Rudra Prayag Phata, Agasya Muni, Badrinath, Chamoli, Joshi Math and Uttarakasi.
The samithi were actively involved in identifying people stranded in the flood-ravaged areas and evacuate them to safer destinations.
Digging out bodies by clearing the debris and performing last rites to them, setting up of rehabilitation centers with provision of food, shelter and clothing and conveying information of the pilgrims, both dead and alive, to their family members and relatives include their activities.
Vision less development of Himalayan Region
Uttarakhand Government’s vision less development in Himalayan Region was an open invitation for natural disaster. It is an open secret that unplanned urbanization, industrialization, and unscrupulous development plans are responsible for most of the human deaths and destruction of private and public property.
The Himalayan region is a sensitive zone, full of water bodies, forests and glaciers and common sense dictates that the local ecology be treated with care and caution. The mad mania for energy has led to damming of practically all water bodies – small or big. When excessive sand is removed from the river beds, it hampers river flow systems. Intensive mining in the region is turning it even more fragile. Mining activities are particularly dangerous because of the way they are organized. They are leased out and the contractors generally go beyond their limits, often as an organized corrupt practice in collusion with bureaucrats or politicians. There is no mechanism to control it.
Non-functional disaster management system:
Disaster management is a state subject. The Uttarakhand government has been honest to admit that it has been way behind the disaster preparedness standards laid down by the NDMA – this fact was also highlighted by CAG. It was a classic case of failure of a system that existed only on paper. It is nothing new in Indian bureaucracy; most things exist only on paper. The only problem this time was that the system was supposed to save human lives. The whole world watched how non-existent the disaster management chain of command was in Uttarakhand. Clearly people trained only to put papers into files and write report to complete office procedures (typical routine of government employees at all levels) couldn’t know what to do when the hill state was suddenly attacked by rains, floods and landslides that washed away ground transportation infrastructure and inclement weather that cut-off areal access to several remote regions. No wonder the only response they could count on was to blame the weather authorities – but that could not provide relief to people in eminent danger. What else Sarkari Babus could do!
But the disaster management authority in the state (SDMA) and other bodies with specific mandates under it were set up exactly to perform in such hopeless situations. They clearly proved utterly unprepared for the task. Their reactions reflected the hypothetical response of untrained and uninformed soldier at the battlefield.
But here is what the top-level disaster management system at the state level should look like:
“At the State Level the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), headed by the Chief Minister, lays down policies and plans for disaster management in the State. It performs the same duties as the NDMA at the national level. The State Disaster Management Department (DMD) which is mostly positioned in the Revenue and relief Department is the nodal authority. State Executive Committee (SEC), headed by Chief Secretary, will coordinate and monitor implementation of National Policy, National Plan and State Plan.”
Now, the DMD is suppose to have a functional Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for information dissemination and to provide situational awareness to all government ministries and the public at large to aid coordinated response. In Uttarakhand, the NDMA was performing this role – it was releasing bits and pieces of information as and when it was available, possibly through the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
The EOC of Uttarakhand was also required to coordinate relief operations at the state level, ensuring suitable responses by various ministries such as defense, railways, food and supplies etc. But the non-existent EOC obviously could not perform.
Irony is such that till date many roads have not been reconstructed post 2013 disaster. There is still lack of communication network which are backbone of alertness during crucial hours. Lack of schools forced kids either to give up education or migrate from the region.
Forgetting all these Harish Rawat’s government engaged themselves in horse trading, to save the government. The 4 sting CDs, the scam in distribution of relief during 2013 calamity and the rape of a deaf and dumb inmate and her subsequent abortion at a government run shelter home for distressed women in the city are the black spots over Harish Rawat let Congress Government in Uttarakhand.
Sting Operations :
Uttarakhand is having a great opportunity to strongly hit back at those corrupt opportunist who made them suffer during disaster time, who are sole responsible for the loss of life and property in the state, who are sole responsible for the migration of people from state. People of state must challenge Harish Rawat led Congress government for all the sins they have committed in DEVBHOOMI.
It is the time for the people of state to stand united and