SANDRP has been compiling the extreme rainfall events termed as cloud bursts occurring during monsoon season in Himalayan states. This account brings out the status of such incidents in the state of Uttarakhand. We have already published details of at least 24 ‘cloud burst’[i] incidents in pre monsoon month of May 2021 in the state. In following parts, we would cover the other states in Western Himalaya.
This video report dated June 1 mentioned of flash flood[ii] spell in Chaka gadera also called Ramganga following a cloud burst. The gadera joins Mandakani river opposite GIC, Augustmuni. It flows through Dovalya, Ghanat villages under Banma patti of Jakholi block in Rudraprayag district. In later part of the video, a villager can be seen describing the event as extreme rainfall amid hailstorm reminding him of 2011 flood. There are not other reports mentioning the incident.
A cloud burst[iii] took place around 1.30 am on June 10 in Dhol area of Maldevta, Dehradun. The resultant deluge flooded the Maldevta junction area with massive amount of debris and sludge. The muck also entered several houses, hotels, restaurants in the area and blocked Dwara, PCL roads.
The damages were largely attributed to carelessly dumped[iv] road construction debris along hill slopes which was washed away[v] downhill. As per locals the road to Baintha was being built under PMGSY without any dumping zone. The hill was vulnerable to landslide. But some politicians had properties there hence the alignment was changed despite their objections and warnings.
After couple of hours heavy rains, most of the debris first reached the local gadera and then spilled all over the human habitation. Hardly few days back residents had objected[vi] muck dumping and excessive mining in a local stream a tributary of Song fearing muck deluge during heavy rainfall.
Following heavy rainfall a cloud burst[vii] incident took place in Binsar Sauni forest area in Ranikhet tehsil of Almora district on June 10 around 11:45 am causing damages[viii] to boudray wall, campus and gate of Swargasharm temple there.
Around same time the Jainal and Paykham area of Someshwar witnessed excessive rainfall[ix] causing flash flood in Dobi gadera damaging agricultural land and dumping debris inside some homes. A temple, a foot bridge, safety wall of an under construction road and potable water supply line to Dadim Khola market were also impacted by the deluge.
The Sain village area in Narkota panchayat of Augustmuni block, Rudraprayag again saw excessive rainfall[x] event around 05:00 am on June 12, flooding[xi] about six homes with debris and muck also damaging some cowsheds and farmlands.
As per villagers they are left on their fate[xii] and given just Rs. 2000 to 3000 as compensation by administration against May 3 cloud burst[xiii] damages. The villagers have been demanding[xiv] treatment of hills in village area and rehabilitation fearing the blasting working during Rishikesh-Karnaprayag railway line would make the area disaster prone.
A video report by a villager claimed damages[xv] to homes, farm crops, drinking water supply lines and local road following a cloud burst incident in early morning hours on June 12 in Bhalya village under Upertola panchayat in Bin block of Pithoragarh.
A could burst incident[xvi] was reported in Gaur Singh nala catchment in Auli bugyal near Parsari village under Joshimath block in Chamoli district around 08:30 pm on June 23. The flash flood[xvii] in the stream washed away[xviii] agricultural land and dumped[xix] rocks and debris on the Niti-Joshimath road thus disconnecting[xx] about a dozen villages including Raini, Malari, Dhak, Tapovan from district headquarter.
The excessive rain also caused flooding and erosion in other local drains in impacting Auli and Joshimath areas. Gaur Singh Nala joins Dhauliganga downstream NTPC’s Tapovan Vishnugad barrage which was devastated on February 7 disaster. The area is disaster prone and has seen cloud burst, land slide incidents in recent past.
A 48 metre long bridge on Tanakpur-Tawaghat highway got washed away[xxi] following flood spell in Kulgad river on July 8, 2021. As a result more than 50 villages at Nepal-China border were completely cut off from Dharchula. The incident possibly occurred due to a cloud burst in Nagne Bugyal area the origin place of Kulgaad stream which joins Kali river near Dhauliganga power station.
This is last bridge connecting Indian villages in Darma, Vyas valley at Nepal-China border and very important one for security purposes. There is 1.2 Mw Small Hydro Project on Kulagaad itself which is proposed for upgradation. There is no information on impact of flash flood on the SHP. In past too the Kulagaad stream has flooded dangerously.
Crops on several farmlands belonging to a dozen families of Sangad Basti village under Kanda tehsil in Bageshwar district were damaged[xxii] following a cloud burst[xxiii] incident that took place in early morning hours of July 17. The local road and irrigation channels in the village area were also affected in the incident.
The district had received heavy rainfall for couple of days blocking[xxiv] several roads, causing landslides and rise in flood[xxv] level in major rivers. On July 10, two people were killed after a home collapsed due to landslide in Sumgarh village under Kapkot tehsil.
Three people were killed[xxvii] (2 women, 1 kid), three other injured and four went missing after two could bursts[xxviii] took place in Nirakot and Kankradi villages under Bhatwari tehsil of Uttarakashi district in the intervening night of July 18 and 19. The causlaties and most destruction has been reported from Mando village downhill Nirakot due to resultant deluge in a local stream.
The disaster[xxix] affected about 30 families in Mando and damaged around 14 houses in Kankradi village while about a dozen homes were flooded with muck in Gangori village. A motor road bridge was washed away at Sada disconnecting the Uttarakashi and Tehri district. A foot bridge, cowsheds and local road were damaged in Siri village. Panwari is another village affected in the incident.
All the villages also suffered extensive damages to agricultural land and crops apart from absence of electricity and mobile network for several hours. The district magistrate faced public anger for being inaccessible on phone and reaching the affected areas after 12 hours. He is quoted providing Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 20,000 to the families of deceased and missing persons as compensation.
The affected villages are located on left bank of Bhilangna river between Maneri Bhali hydro power dam and power station site. There is no information available about impact of deluge on the hydro power project. The entire district was witnessing heavy rainfall between July 18-20 causing widespread destruction to roads and public properties and landslides at several sites.
Another cloud burst[xxx] incident[xxxi] was reported from Maid village of Bhilangna block in Tehri district around 04:00 am on July 19 injuring one and buring[xxxii] portions of seven houses under muck and rubble. The muck deluge[xxxiii] also affected about 30 naali agricultural land and damaged a foot bridge. Villagers were awakened by laud thundering and left their homes to save their lives.
The administration has listed several villages in Bhilangna block including Med for rehabilitation[xxxiv] as they are increasingly facing cloud burst incidents since 2002. In 2017, six villagers were killed in a cloud burst incident that took place in Kot Bishan area of Budha Kedar in the region. As there is no progress from government side for past 19 years, the Med villagers reiterated rehabilitation demand following the latest cloud burst event.
Excessive rainfall in the intervening night July 28-29 2021 impacted several villages in Chauthan Patti under Thailisain tehsil of Pauri district. While heavy downpour lashed out the large parts of the district, the villagers of Dumdikot also reported of a cloud burst[xxxv] around 02:30 am on July 28 causing significant destruction to farm lands, crops, village pathways, drinking water sources.
About 50 cattle died[xxxvi] after six cowsheds collapsed[xxxvii] in a landslip[xxxviii] incident that took place in Naugaon Chaludi village under Kandyarsun Patti of Khirshu block (Chakisain tehsil) in Pauri district following a cloud burst[xxxix] around 01:00 am on August 7.
The Valley of Flower area witnessed a cloud burst incident in intervening night of August 8. The incident washed away[xl] about 20 meter pathways and a foot bridge in Bamandhon near glacier point. As a result the administration closed[xli] the site for tourist to assess full scale of damage and undertake restoration work.
A cloud burst[xlii] incident was reported from Marchula area in Salt tehsil of Almora district in evening hours of August 13 damaging[xliii] several roads leading to Garhwal and Kumaon regions. The roads remained blocked for about 19 hours. The incident impacted homes, courtyards, village pathways, drinking water pipelines in Jahdgaon, Marchula, Sankar, Chimtakhal, Harda. Two shops were hit by debris in Marchula and Sankar causing damages to goods.
More than 40 homes were flooded[xlv] with sludge and debris after back to back cloud burst[xlvi] incidents in Khabadwala area near Santla Devi temple in Dehradun in late evening hours of August 24. Between August 24 and 25, Dehradun witnessed 188 per cent excess[xlvii] rainfall the highest amount this monsoon season leading to water logging[xlviii] in several localities, raod damages at many locations and flash floods in local rivulets.
VJVNL Vyasi Hydro Power Project:- The flash floods and two cloud bursts[xlix] in the intervening night of August 26-27 in Binhar area of Vikas Nagar tehsil impacted under construction Vyasi Hydro Power Project. The power station area at Hathyari was flooded with muck and debris burying several vehicles and machines. Power generation was stopped in Dhakrani, Dhalipur, Kulhal hydro projects.
In Juddo, several homes, shops were buried under huge muck and debris after flash flood spell around mid-night on August 26. Local people blamed PWD for dumping road construction muck carelessly just uphill the Juddo habitation. Juddo is mall market area located on either bank of river Yamuna just downstream of the Vyasi HEP dam site.
Then a cloud burst incident around 02:00 am on August 27 in Bhadeli panchayat area created flash flood in Ratoi stream which joins Yamuna river downstream of the Vyasi HEP power station. The water deluge flooded several homes in Gaddha colony located about 50 metre downstream the project power station. The farm lands and crops along the Yamuna and Ratoi stream suffered significant damages in the incident.
On the same day, a cloud burst occurred around 07:30 am in Jakhan village under Pashta area. Following heavy rainfall a home collapsed, killing an elderly villager. Several farmlands of village were filled with silt, sludge destroying the crop.
A cloud burst[l] took place in early morning hours of August 27 near Majra Kadriyana area under Bhitareli village in Mussoorie washing away[li] two cowsheds and causing landslips at half a dozen places in the area. Heavy rainfall, flash flood spells left behind huge trail of destruction impacting local roads, bridges and agricultural land and crops.
Major part of Mal Devta Shahastradhara link road was engulfed[lii] by Baldi river, a tributary of Song on August 27. This incident is also reported due to cloud burst[liii]. Similarly, a large part of Chardham National Highway was washed away on August 27 near Bhinu location between Fakot-Agrakhal in Chamba, Tehri. Both the incidents are possibly result of cloud burst.
About four villages suffered massively[liv] after a cloud burst[lv] incident that took place around 10:00 pm on August 24 in Katal village area under Dogi patti of Narendra Nagar block in Tehri district. The deluge[lvi] affected about 40 families while the debris flooded[lvii] about 10 homes including the Timali primary school.
Crops were damaged on large area and several farmlands were washed away. The flash flood damaged four foot briedges, three potable water sources, electricity poles and village path ways.
The villagers blamed[lviii] the irresponsible muck dumping by contractor for aggravating the destruction manifold. As per them the Shivpuri-Timali-Pasarkhet-Gaja road is being constructed for past two years under PMGSY. The dumpyard for debris was built uphill village without any protection wall. As a result of downpour, the debris and muck first flooded[lix] the local gadera and then invaded village homes and properties.
NPHC Dhauliganga power project The border areas of Pithoragarh witnessed large scale destruction following series of disasters[lx] on August 30, 2021 night. There were at least two cloud burst incidents and lethal landslides attributing to human casualties and much of devastation on both side.
Amid heavy rainfall in the region, a cloud burst occurred over Jamri and Tarkot hamlets in Jumma village area around 02:00 am on August 30. The excessive rainfall caused a huge landslide uphill leading to debris, muck deluge that buried about seven houses. As a result seven people trapped inside homes were killed.
Several buildings at Tapovan colony of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd. were also flooded due to formation of a landslide lake across Kali river. There is no information on damages to the power project.
The deluge swept away three vehicles. A motor bridge, four shops and a ranger’s office were washed away in the aftermath. A crusher plant and settlements of Border Road Organization (BRO) were damaged by flash floods while hundreds of its Tar Coal drums and other valuables were buried under the muck.
Even last year, Jumma village has been affected by cloud burst on Aug 18, 2020. Before this, the village suffered large scale devastation after a cloud burst in Kulgaad stream on Sept. 18, 2016. The village has been facing landslide since 1989.
On September 7, a cloud burst incident was reported in Syunsal village under Thailiain block of Pauri district. As per villagers the incident occurred around 02.30 am early in the morning. The deluge that rolled down the hill damaged[lxi] several farm lands and destroyed[lxii] crops over 15 nalis belonging to some 18 farmers as per preliminary survey by local administration.
In morning hours of September 7, a cloud burst[lxiii] occurred over a hill near Narayanbagad in Chamoli district. The incident caused landslide flooding several homes, shops and cowsheds with debris in the area. The local people had to run to save their lives from flash flood. The administration promised[lxiv] Rs. 3800 as compensation to affected people.
Several vehicles were damaged[lxv] on Badrinath national highway following a cloud burst[lxvi] incident around 01:00 am on September 9, uphill Sirobagad area in Rudraprayag. Two people went missing after a diesel truck which was hit by deluge, fell[lxvii] into the Alaknanda river. About 1km long highway stretch was blocked by debris at several places. A cement truck and two other vehicles were also trapped in muck sludge. Sirobagad is landslide zone damaging the highway frequently.
The Panti area in Naryanbagad suffered siginificant destruction[lxviii] following a cloud burst[lxix] uphill around 06:00 am on September 20. The incident caused flash flood[lxx] in Mangrigad (also reported as Khalgad) stream damaging[lxxi] seven huts belonging to migrant workers hired by BRO. The muck sludge trapped[lxxii] several vehicles and blocked Karanprayag-Gwaldam road.
The workers were saved in the nick of time however a female worker suffered some injuries. The huts were built along the stream. Narayanbagad, Karanprayag, Tharali and Deval region are disaster prone in Chamoli district. The Naryanbagad area is facing landslide from both side since 1980. This is seventh[lxxiii] cloud burst incident in Pindar area since 2019. Previously there have been devastating cloud burst there in 1992 (Gadni), 1993 (Musa Udiyar) and 2013 (Naryanbagad).
Some Relevant News
At least 26 cloud bursts[lxxiv] occurred in the Himalayan region from January through July 29, 2021, according to analysis by Down to Earth. India Meteorological Department (IMD), however, did not report any of these incidents as cloudburst. The minimum threshold of 100 mm per hour to define a cloude burst event is quite high, which may be why only 30 such incidents (17 in Uttarakhand) have been recorded between 1970 and 2016 by IMD. Though scientists term rainfall between 50 and 100 mm within two hours as ‘mini cloudburst’.
This report by Megha Prakash in Gaon Connection rightly demands redefining[lxxv] the cloud burst definition for the Hill areas. This animation video explains[lxxvi] reason behind cloud burst. A 2017 study[lxxvii] of cloud bursts in the Indian Himalayas noted that most of the events occurred in the months of July and August.
According to IMD website, “It is very difficult to predict[lxxviii] cloudbursts” due to its very small scale in space and time. As per M Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the incidents of cloudburst seem to be rising. Although, it is difficult to forecast cloud bursts, Doppler radars can be very helpful in predicting them. But not every place may have a radar, especially the Himalayan region.
Senior meteorologist Kamaljit Ray, currently posted at the MoES, said many cloudburst events also go unnoticed as not every place where the event occurs may have Automatic Weather Station to record the rainfall, especially the hilly areas.
There has been a sharp increase[lxxix] in cloudburst incidents in the past few years according to the IMD, although the agency has not conducted an analysis of cloudburst incidents specifically but observed trends from media reports and data on heavy and extremely heavy rainfall events that it documents.
“IMD has about 150 weather stations from where hourly rain data can be accessed. But all regions are not covered. IMD has no specific analysis on cloudbursts. Overall higher water vapour availability due to climate change may have led to a rise in cloudbursts,” Rajeevan explained.
There has been a rise in short span high intensity rain occurrences (mini cloud bursts) along the west coast of India and along the foothills of Western Himalayas between 1969 and 2015 according to “Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region,” as per a report by MoES published last year.
Scientists have also said even if heavy rainfall events don’t meet the exact criteria defined, but cause extensive damage such as flash floods and landslides in high altitude areas, they should also be considered cloudburst events.
A paper authored by including those from scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune titled ‘Statistical characteristics of cloud burst and mini-cloud burst events during monsoon season in India’ published in International Journal of Climatology categorized cloudbursts in to three categories.
Recommending rainfall events exceeding 50 mm in two hours needs to be classified as mini cloud bursts[lxxx], scientists from IITM, Pune say there has been sharp increase in numbers of cloud bursts and mini cloud bursts in hilly states in last 126 years from 1926 to 2015.
“As temperatures increase the atmosphere can hold more and more moisture and this moisture comes down as a very intense rainfall for a short duration probably half an hour or one hour resulting in flash floods in the mountainous areas and urban floods in the cities. Also, there is evidence suggesting that globally short duration rainfall extremes are going to become more intense and frequent[lxxxi]. With warming climate or climate change, we will surely witness these cloudburst events in increased frequency in the future,” explains Vimal Mishra from the Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences at IIT Gandhinagar.
More and more climate scientists are saying that the recent extreme rainfall is a direct fallout of global warming[lxxxii] and climate change. A German climate research institute has found that with every degree’s rise in temperature, monsoon rainfall over India will likely increase by 5%. While India’s southern peninsula has received extreme rainfall, the northeast region recorded a 14% deficit in the same period – i.e. between July 1 and July 23.
On the contrary, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister for state, Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in written statement in Rajya Sabha on August 2, stated that manifestations of extreme events, including cloudbursts, and their incidence are modelled and projected in various scientific assessments, and there is no established study[lxxxiii] for India estimating the quantified contribution of climate change in triggering such cloudbursts. “The science of the attribution of such extreme events to climate change is far more complex and currently an evolving subject and being closely studied by Ministry of Earth Sciences, through the IITM and the IMD,” as per Choubey.
On August 30, Uttarakhand minister for disaster management Dhan Singh Rawat was ridiculed for his rain app comment which may increase or decrease amount of rainfall as per requirement.” While there is no “app”, a three member expert panel has been formed[lxxxiv] by the department, headed by the director of the USAC to study technology developed by Dubai based Russian scientist Yuri Tkatchenko that can reportedly affect rainfall patterns using “ion generators.”
Corroborating Rawat, Director USAC MPS Bisht, informed that the government had earlier formed a panel of three experts led by him to study the technology known as “magnetic ion generator” while planning to implement in the state to fight forest fires. He said as asked by the government the three-member expert panel which includes one expert each from Nainital based Aryabhata Research Institute of Observational Sciences and Dehradun centre of IMD have submitted[lxxxv] their report to the government about a week ago.
Claiming the new technology to be far superior to the existing cloud seeding one, Bisht said that the former is not “harmful to the environment but the latter one is.” Bisht also said that apart from fighting forest fires, the technology could also be used in fighting droughts.
There have been three cloud burst incidents in Dhan Singh Rawat constituency but he has visited none of these and done nothing to initiate monitoring and mitigation.
Interactive map showing cloud burst locations in Uttarakhand.
Summary Table of Cloud Bursts in SW Monsoon 2021
|Date Time||Cloud Bursts No.||Drainage channel/ River||Affected villages, areas||Block/ Tehsil District||Human death/ injuries||Cattle death|
|June 1 Early morning||1||Chaka gadera, Mandakani||Dovalya, Ghanat||Bamna patti, Rudraprayag|
|June 10 ~1:30 am||1||Local gadera Song||Dhol, Maldevta junction||Dehradun|
|June 10 ~11:45 am||1||Bindar, Kosi||Sauni Binsar||Ranikhet, Almoda|
|June 12 ~05:00 am||1||Local stream Alaknanda||Sain, Narkota||Augustmuni, Rudraprayag|
|June 12 Early morning||1||Local gadera Ramganga||Bhalya||Bin, Pithoragrah|
|June 23 ~08:30 pm||1||Gaursingh nala, Dhauliganga||Villages in Parsari area||Joshimath, Chamoli|
|July 08 Night hours||1||Kulgaad/ Kali||Villages in Jumma area||Dharchula, Pithoragarh|
|July 17 Early morning||1||Local gadera and river that feeds Saryu||Sangad Basti||Kanda, Bageshwar|
|July 18-19 Midnight hours||2||Local streams, Bhagirathi||Nirakot, Mando Kankradi, Sari, Gangori, Panwari||Bhatwari, Uttarakashi||3 killed, 3 injured, 4 missing|
|July 19 ~04:00 am||1||Local gadera, Balganga, Bhilangna||Maid, Banoli||Balganga, Tehri||1 injured|
|July 28 ~02:30 am||1||Topya, Binnu Ramganga||Dumdikot Malli Dadoli||Thailisain, Pauri|
|Aug. 7 ~01:00 am||1||Nayaar||Naugaon Chaludi||Khirsu, Pauri||~50 cattle|
|Aug. 8 Night||1||Bhyundar, Alaknanda||Vally of Flowers||Joshimath, Chamoli|
|Aug. 13 Evening hours||1||Ramganga||Marchula, Sankar, Jhadgaon||Salt, Almora|
|Aug. 24 Late evening||2||Local streams, Tons, Nun||Khabadwala, Santla Devi Temple||Dehradun|
|Aug. 24 10:00 pm||1||Local gadera, Ganga||Katal, Timali||Narendar Nagar, Tehri|
|Aug. 26 ~02:00 am||2||Been, Ratoi Yamuna||Jakhan, Bhadehi, Hathiyar, Juddo||Vikas Nagar, Dehradun||1 elderly killed|
|Aug. 27 Early morning||1||Local gadera Tons||Bhitareli, Upertola||Mussoorie, Dehradun|
|Aug. 30 ~02:00 am||1||Kulgad, Kali||Jamri, Tarkot, Jumma||Dharchula, Pithoragarh||7 killed|
|Sept. 7 ~02:00 am||1||Binnu, Ramganga||Syunsal||Thailisain, Pauri|
|Sept. 7 Early Morning||1||Alaknanda||Narayanbagad||Chamoli|
|Sept. 9 ~01:00 am||1||Alaknanda||Sirobagad||Rudraprayag||2 Missing|
|Sept. 20 ~06:00 am||1||Magrigad, Pindar||Panti||Narayanbagad, Chamoli||1 Injured|
High Rainfall days in Uttarakhand During the SW Monsoon months of June-Sept 2021, as per India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s daily rainfall reports, Uttarakhand districts experienced high rainfall events as per following table. The dates on which high rainfall (over 50 cm in a day in the respective district) in respective months was experienced are listed.
|June 2021||July 2021||August 2021||Sept 2021||Monsoon 2021 rainfall departure from normal|
|Bageshwar||19, 20||11, 18, 28||20, 28, 29, 30||–||+162|
|Chamoli||19 (rainfall 100-150 mm)||–||–||7||+67|
|Dehradun||–||13, 18, 19, 22, 28||21 (rainfall 150-200 mm)||–||-11|
|Nainital||19||19, 20, 22||13, 14, 20||–||-12|
|Tehri Garhwal||19||19, 20||–||–||-6|
It can be seen that the highest deficit districts Champawat and Pauri Garhwal had the least number of such events, while Bageshwar and Chamoli, with high surplus departures, have more such events. Uttarakhand rainfall in SW Monsoon 2021 was 2% below normal.
The compilation shows at least 26 cloud burst incidents have occurred across 9 districts of Uttarakhand during south west monsoon months of 2021. These are in addition to the 24 such incidents that SANDRP could compile in pre-monsoon month of May 2021 alone.
The localzised intense rainfall spell kept occurring through out June, July and August till September 20 when the last incident is reported. June and July witnessed 6 incidents each of such excessive rainfall while maximum 10 were reported in Aug followed by 4 in Sept.
The maximum 6 incidents have taken place in Dehradun district, 5 of which took place just in last week of August. Chamoli saw 4 cloud burst incidents while Rudraprayag, Pithoragarh and Pauri reported 3 such events each, followed by 2 each in Uttarkashi and Almora and 1 in Bageshwar.
The incident of Baldi river (Song tributary) engulfing part of Maldevta link road around Aug 28 could also be a result of cloud burst but given insufficient information is not included in the final tally. The event of Sribagad in Darchula district of Nepal affected the NHPC Tapovan colony and resultant artificial lake flooded Kali river in Dharchula town however final tally excludes this since it took place in Nepal. A couple of such incidents have not be added here for same reason.
Incidents of multiple cloud burst, back to back cloud burst in limited areas and same region facing cloud burst devastation within this pre/monsoon season and in previous years is also observed like villages in Bhatwari tehsil of Tehri, areas under Jakholi block of Rudraprayag, regions of Dharchula and Joshimath .
The phenomena has affected nearly all the regions in the state from high altitude in Valley of Flowers, Auli to lower hills in Shivalik range, Dehradun, Marchula; from remote areas of Thailisain, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar in middle Himalaya to famous tourist locations of Sauni Binsar in Ranikhet and Mal Devta in Mussoorie, Marchula adjoining Jim Corbett National Park. Terrain wise, 2 of cloud bursts happened in paraglacial zones both in Chamoli, 16 in middle portion of state and 8 closer to lesser Himalayas.
While cloud burst induced landslides and heavy rainfall have damaged Chardham All Weather Road project at several locations, the resultant flash floods have also affected areas, infrastructure around 4 hydro power projects of Dhauliganga in Pithoragarh (Aug. 30), Vyasi HEP (Aug. 26) in Dehradun, Maneri Bhali (July 19) in Uttarakashi and Tapovan Vishnugad (June 23) in Joshimath Chamoli.
Although every event has resulted in significant destruction to public and private properties as described above, thankfully human casualties were limited to 11 in three incidents of Jumma (7) in Dharchula, Mando (3) in Uttarkashi and Jakhan (1) in Dehradun. Similarly, the death of about 50 cattle occurred in a single incident of Khirsu in Pauri.
It is also evident that more villages are increasingly becoming vulnerable to cloud burst disaster and several have been seeking rehabilitation for years. Meanwhile the big development activities including hydro projects, road widening, railway lines have been going ahead without adequate disaster impact study and mitigation measures thus compounding the impacts of cloud bursts.
Even at village level the unscientific road cutting and muck dumping has magnified the destruction proportion in Juddo and Maldevta in Dehradun and Katal in Tehri cloud burst incidents.
The state machinery lacks efficiency in disaster response and the amount of compensation is too less considering the damages. It also shows apathy prevalent in government mechanism.
Only few incidents have been highlighted well by print media mostly Hindi dailies, while most lacks suffificent coverage and some even went without any mention. The Hindi print media and social media outlets are helpful in assembling the sequence of events while the English media has not laid enough focus on this critical issue.
SANDRP has already mentioned about sheer dearth of rainfall monitoring in the state and inconsistency in rainfall figures by weather and revenue departments. There is no information on how helpful the Doppler radar has been in predicting the cloud bursts in Chukhutiya, Ranikhet and Kainchidham this year though it was installed in January 2021 at Mukteshwar for the very purpose of monitoring and forecasting extreme weather events.
Similarly, the functioning of weather department is beaurocratic and not science oriented as there is no data published in public domain detailing the cloud burst or extreme rainfall incidents and impacts this monsoon season by the state government. While scientists are alarmed over gradual increase in cloud burst incidents, researchers linking it to climate change impact and warning about worse situation in future, the government still seems unprepared and in denial mode.
Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also see links of SANDRP previous blogs on the cloud burst incidents in Uttarakhand:-