For the past many years, cloud bursts have been emerging as a significant and reoccurring disaster in Himalayan region. The highly localized, intensive rainfall spell, consequent flash floods and landslides have been taking a heavy toll on human and infrastructure apart from impacting the landscape. SANDRP has been documenting such incidents particularly in North West Himalayan states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. This first part of 2022 tracks the ‘cloud burst’ incidents reported in Uttarakhand before and during SW monsoon 2022. SANDRP’s previous compilation and analysis on the issue for Uttarakhand can be seen here 2018[i], 2019[ii], 2020[iii], May 2021[iv] and 2021[v].
07 May; Nainital: Probably the first incident of ‘cloud burst’[vi] was reported from Bohrakun village under Bhimtal Block in Nainital district on May 7, 2022. There was very heavy rainfall accompanied with a hailstorm spell for about three hours between 1 and 4 pm.
As per locals, the ‘cloud burst’ happened on a hill top near the village. Following the incident there was flash flood[vii] in local streams. The debris damaged[viii] a cowshed and killed a livestock inside while two other animals were injured. The campus of Mallikaarjun School was filled with debris while the approach road to school was blocked with rubble trapping the students inside school and disrupting vehicular mobility for local residents for about two hours.
Devendra Singh Chanoutiya, Chairman, Nagar Panchayat alleged that outsiders have been cutting hills with JCBs and dumping the debris along hill slopes and streams in violation of the norms which have been causing damages in downstream areas during the rainy season. He further stated that in the past he had filed complaints with administration on the issue demanding strict action but in vain.
10 May, Bageshwar: In another similar incident, a short heavy rainfall spell was reported from Papoli village of Nakuri patti in Reema area under Kapkot tehsil of Bageshwar district on May 10, 2022. The one and half hour long downpour beginning around 03:00 pm led to flash floods in local streams and the muck and debris invaded half a dozen homes and farming land of several farmers.
The streams were blocked[ix] by the muck dumping of under construction Jadti-Papoli road connecting to Reema via Junayal. Before the incident, the villagers had asked the engineer and contractor to remove the malbas from the streams. However no action was taken resulting in aggravating the damages after heavy rainfall.
27 June; Nainital: Very heavy rainfall spells were reported from several areas of state including Karanprayag, Champawat and Nainital on June 27, 2022. Some reports also mentioned of a ‘cloud burst’ incident in Bhimtal[x] area on the same day however the details about the same are unavailable.
1 July, Uttarkashi: More than 50 goats and sheep were killed[xi] by a lightening incident amid heavy rainfall around midnight on July 1, 2022 in Changsheel Bugyal in Govind Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary and National park located close to Himachal Pradesh border about 70 km away from Mori Block in Uttarkashi. The shepherds termed it a cloud burst incident.
5 July, Uttarkashi: There was flash flood spell in Souri and Devalsari streams in Yamuna valley after a cloud burst incident in Syori Phal Patti of Rastadi Kandau area in Nagaon block during night hours of July 5, 2022 damaging vegetable crops on several fields, part of Syori road, drinking water lines and washing away two public toilets, few vehicles in the streams. The flash flood debris also entered some homes.
In a similar incident, around 04:00 am the Nasana stream flowing through the Mori market flooded suddenly dumping huge amounts of debris in the market area besides damaging numerous shops and homes there. Around the same time, the deluge in Sami khad near Bainol village following excessive rains damaged several acres of farm lands in Kevla tok.
About two dozen villages were disconnected[xii] from road services following a cloud burst incident in Kedarkantha area of Mori block in Uttarkashi in late night hours of July 05, 2022. The incident caused deluge in Fafrala khad which in turn washed away about 500 metres road completely. The incessant rains flooded Yamunotri highway with debris and boulders between Dharasu bend and Jankichatti stretch blocking vehicular mobility.
The reports also mentioned that debris generated from road widening work near Khanera village and construction of Durbil road near Hanuman Chatti were being dumped in Yamuna river narrowing down its course and posing threat of an artificial lake. In a separate incident in Rudraprayag the debris of an under construction Daijimanda-Pourikhal road damaged several paddy fields of Rampur village amid heavy downpour in the area.
A video report mentioned of creation of an artificial lake in Jakhan river[xiii] near Sebuwala village under Doiwala block of Dehradun due to dumping of under construction road debris down the slope uphill. The road was being built under the PMGSY scheme. The villagers feared more debris would reach the river blocking the channel. Bursting of the same could cause flash flood threat to bridges, farmlands in downstream areas during monsoon.
8 July, Bageshwar: Widespread destruction was caused in Munar, Rikhadi and Shama areas in Luhar Valley under Garud block of Kapkot tehsil in Bageshwar district on the intervening night of July 7-8, 2022 following extreme rainfall spell triggering speculation of a cloud burst incident[xiv].
The flash flood washed away 3 foot bridges, 2 watermills, 2 public bathrooms and a hand pump. The muck and debris entered homes and shops in market area of Talla Rikhadi and a primary school of Munar village. Several vehicles were stuck in debris muck and local roads were damaged disconnecting over a dozen villages of vehicular connectivity.
About 100 metre stretch of Pindari road was washed away[xv] in a local river near Song, Munar. The flash flood and debris also filled several farmlands with debris, sludge. The heavy rainfall caused several landslips[xvi] in the area causing threats to homes and blocking the roads.
The report also mentioned three excessive rainfall events in a period of 9 days causing destruction in Luhar valley. On June 29, there was devastation in Ason, Baskuna, Gadera, Khadgeda, Nargada and the border area of Kapkot.
On the night of July 6, the Jakheda, Lamchula, Ganigaon, Bhagdanu, Clue, Parkoti villages faced destruction due to excessive rain. The debris and flash flood destroyed[xvii] several farms, village pathways, culverts in these villages apart from causing landslips. Two women were buried under rubble in a home collapse incident following rains in Jakheda village. Both were rescued in time by the villagers. The feeder of the main pipeline belonging to Parvatiya hydro power company developed a burst disrupting power supply in Garud block. Similarly the drinking water scheme Naikana Khumtiya was destroyed.
8 July; Pithoragarh: Heavy rainfall during July 8, 2022 night caused devastation in Munsiyari and Sainranthi areas of Pithoragarh. A bridge on Dwaligad nullah was destroyed by the flash flood following a cloud burst incident in Chuthrapni some 15km uphill from Sainranthi disrupting road connectivity from Birthi to China border on Thal-Munsiyari route.
9 July, Nainital: In morning hours of July 9, 2022, the Haldwani city received extreme rainfall for three hours causing water logging, flash flood[xviii] in the city. As per rainfall figures from Gola barrage the city witnessed 117 mm rainfall in just one hour. Due to intense rains the drains and canal overflowed, the Nainital road was submerged in knee deep water. More than 1800 houses were flooded with gushing water and a home collapsed while two vehicles plunged into drains in the city. The flash flood caused financial loss worth more than Rs. 30 lakhs.
14 July, Dehradun: A flash flood spell[xix] in a local stream following heavy rainfall during evening hours washed away some goats and caused soil erosion creating landslip threat for several homes in Lohari, Lokhandi villages under Chakrata tehsil in Dehradun.
20 July, Chamoli: A temporary bridge was washed away by flash flood and 163 tourists were stranded in Vally of Flowers, Joshimath after a cloud burst incident[xx] on July 20, 2022 during afternoon hours. All the tourists were later rescued by the police and forest department team. The administration confirmed about the cloud burst incident in Patodi tok near Ghangariya bringing debris in huge amounts in Pushpavati river. The Glacier point area of the Valley had witnessed a cloud burst incident[xxi] uphill Bhusa gadera on August 9, 2021 destroying a temporary bridge and damaging several pathways.
30 July; Pithoragarh: A cloud burst incident was reported from the Darma valley in Pithoragarh district on July 30, 2022 in Bheti nullah catchment[xxii] near Jhimir village in Sobla area of Dharchula tehsil in evening hours. The subsequent flash flood washed away a baily bridge built by BRO on Tawaghat-Drama road, disconnecting Darma valley with district headquarter.
30 July, Chamoli: There was a cloud burst incident near Bhararisain[xxiii], the assembly complex of the state’s summer capital Gairsain around 1.30 pm on July 30, 2022. The heavy downpour damaged a 20 meter long portion of the helipad built some 1.5 km away from the assembly complex. More than a hundred trees of native species in the forest of Choda village along with water sources were buried under the debris. As per village headman, the destruction was largely due to muck and debris generated during construction of the helipad.
1 August, Pauri Nearly 200 farms were damaged[xxiv] along with pathways, drinking water supply lines and electricity poles on account of flash flood and debris[xxv] following a cloud burst incident around 01:00 am on August 1, 2022 in upper parts of Jogadi and Ritpura village under Katakholi panchayat in Srinagar tehsil of Pauri district.
9 August, Rudraprayag: A cloud burst incident occurred[xxvi] in early morning hours of August 9 in Chhinka village under Augustmuni block killing 3 cattles, injuring 2 mules and flooding around 6 homes with muck a debris in Basti area. Several farmlands along with crops, irrigation channels and drinking water supply lines were damaged[xxvii]. The villagers had to run for the safety of their lives.
10 August, Chamoli: 3 houses were destroyed completely while belongings in 10 other homes were damaged by flash flood[xxviii] after excessive rainfall event around 08:30 pm on August 10, 2022 in Agarchatti Basti under Gairsain tehsil. The sudden deluge also affected agricultural land and crops of the village. The residents had to flee the area in the nick of time. The destruction was mainly caused[xxix] by the dumping of under construction Agarchatti-Syuni road debris irresponsibly along the slopes and drainage channel. During rain the debris caused blockade & diversion of the local gadera towards village area, leading to the disaster.
11 August, Uttarkashi: Significant damages[xxx] were caused to public infrastructure in several parts of Uttarkashi district amid very heavy rainfall during the intervening night of August 10-11, 2022. About 8 shops including an ATM machine carrying Rs. 24 lakh were washed away[xxxi] due to flash flood spell in Kumola gadera in Purola market area around 03:00 am on August 11, 2022. The heavy rainfall also caused landslips resulting in damages[xxxii] to drains, electric poles, under construction parking area, boundary wall of Payjal Sansthan and pathways to government buildings in several wards of Purola Nagar Panchayat. The area had also suffered damages during heavy rainfall on July 16, 2022.
Water and debris gushed into several homes, shops apart from damaging a playground after the flash flood in Devdhung gadera in the area. The flood spate in Malgadh and Kamal river destroyed adjoining farming land and crops. The Devalsari gadera also flooded several homes in Naugaon. Both the Yamnotri and Gangotri highways were blocked at several places following landslips and flash floods in local streams.
11 August, Dehradun In intervening night of August 10-11, 2022 the Kalsi area of Dehradun witnessed excessive rainfall[xxxiii] leading to flash flood induced damages in several parts of Jaunsar Bhabar area. A cloud burst incident was reported around 05:00 am near Gaideta village resulting in flash flood in Masrad khad[xxxiv] subsequently washing away a government ration shop, a water mill, 3 foot bridges and some cowsheds.
The primary school building, cash crops including farmlands in a large area along the stream were severely damaged[xxxv]. Developmental works worth lakhs done under MGNREGA including a ready for inauguration Amrit Sarovar pond in the village were also destroyed.
Another cloud burst took place around 03:00 am near Chapnu on Kalsi-Chakrata road washing away a temporary eatery. Several roads, homes faced damages in parts of Tyuni, Chakrata, Kalsi due to landslips, floods following heavy downpour. The flood and rains also affected several areas in Vikas Nagar town including Kalandi hospital. The Gorkha colony was flooded by flash flood in Sheetala river.
20 August; Multiple Cloud Bursts; Excessive Rainfall Events
Several parts of the state witnessed large scale destruction following multiple cloud bursts and excessive rainfall during the intervening night of 19-20 August 2022 causing death of 4 persons, injuring 20 while 13 went missing. Dehradun, Tehri, Pauri, Uttarkashi and Rudraprayag were among the most affected districts mainly in Garhwal region. Over 50 homes and several roads including state highways, All Weather Roads were severely damaged by the flash flood and debris.
Dehradun: A devastating cloud burst incident[xxxvi] took place near Sarkhet village along Bandal river in Raipur area of the Dehradun district around 02:40 am on August 20, 2022 causing damages in several villages including Sarkhet, Maldevta, Bhutsi, Tauliyakatal, Thatyud, Lavarkha, Ringalgadh, Ghuttu and Ragad Gaon. 5 people went missing after flash flood washed away some homes in Sarkhet village and bodies of 3 were later recovered. Over 72 families were affected and more than 40 homes were damaged by mud and debris flows. Several cattle, vehicles were swept away[xxxvii]. Nearly 500 people mostly tourists, had to be rescued and shifted to safer areas. The Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre confirmed the cloud burst incident.
The flash floods washed away[xxxviii] a bridge on Song river near Thano and another foot bridge on Tamsa river near Tapkeshwar Mahadev Temple apart from destroying a temporary causeway on Jakhan river. The Kempty fall stream turned into spate. A biker was swept away in Song river while crossing the collapsing bridge. He was later rescued by State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) team. While another two wheeler rider swept away in Maldevta area remained missing. The Raipur-Kumalda, Maldevta Silla-Kyara roads were severely damaged and blocked by debris at several locations.
As per local people the areas have been frequently facing such destruction due to encroachment of rivers and blockage of drainage system[xxxix] by mushrooming resorts and mining, hill cutting activities[xl] in Maldevta area greatly aggravated to destruction on ground.
The bridge on Jakhan river near Jolly Grant Airport was destroyed by a flash flood on August 26, 2021. The pillars of the bridge were allegedly weakened by illegal mining[xli] activities. The government had promised to build a new bridge before the monsoon. But it remained incomplete and commuters were using a temporary causeway to cross the river.
The Dehradun city area also faced urban flooding[xlii] and water logging in several parts with all the rivers flowing through the district including Bindal, Rispna, Suswa flowing dangerously. This report mentions the numbers of human and livestock causalities[xliii] due to extreme rainfall in three districts.
Tehri: At least 4 cloud burst incidents (2 in Dhanoulti, 1 each in Ghansali and Kirtinagar block) took place in Tehri district in early morning hours of August 20, 2022 leading to death of 3 people (excluding 5 missing ones) while causing severe damages[xliv] to homes, farmlands, roads and other infrastructure.
Several areas of Jaunpur block under Dhanolti tehsil received excessive rainfall during August 19-20 night damaging about 32 homes, over 80 hectares of farm lands & killing 33 cattle. Over a dozen villages suffered damages to local roads, pathways, drinking water pipelines.
A cloud burst incident was reported in Kumalda area causing destruction[xlv] in Gwad tok of Dholagiri village where 7 people were buried after 2 houses collapsed under debris flow. While 2 dead bodies were recovered, 5 others remained untraced. Several other homes and agricultural land were damaged.
In second such incident [xlvi] in the same block several homes and agricultural lands were damaged by flash flood and debris flow belonging to about 6 villages including Sera, Saundani, Bhavakatal, Gwali Danda, Kund, Kokiyal.
The third incident[xlvii] of cloud burst around the same time took place near Mandar village under Malyakot panchayat in Ghansali tehsil leading to flash flood in Nailchami gadera. The drinking water supply line of the village was damaged in the incident while debris and mud deluge affected several farmlands and crops in the area.
The fourth cloud burst incident took place in Palyapatal and Malli Ringoli area of Bariyargarh under Kirtinagar block around 07:00 am causing damages to homes and farming land[xlviii] in several villages including Kothar, Gavana, Ghadiyaldhar. In a house collapse incident an elderly woman in Kothar village lost her life. The potable water supply lines to several villages including Devli, Jakhani, Dang, Jakhi, Gawana, Kaproli were badly damaged[xlix] by the flash flood in local streams. Over a dozen villages in Lostu patti were cut off from road connectivity after damages to Mahadev and Badiyar bridges. The flash flood in Chandrbhaga river swept away a two storey building in Dugadda bazar area near Maletha.
Pauri: In Yamkeshwar tehsil several villages in Taal and Havel valleys faced destruction[l] after a cloud burst incident around 03.30 am on August 20, 2022. In Binak village, an elderly woman was killed inside a home which collapsed due to landslip. The deluge washed away a shop and a cowshed killing some livestock in Kandrah village under Divogi Panchayat.
Due to cloud burst and excessive rainfall several rivers and streams in both valleys including Havel, Taal, Satrudra, Bairagarh, Panyari flooded dangerously[li] and caused bank erosion, damaged farmlands, irrigation channels, drinking water supply lines at many places. Taal valley was cut off from road connectivity. The flash flood in Panyari and Bairagarh gaderas washed away several vehicles while some others were buried under the debris.
Cattle deaths were reported from Divogi, Kandai, Maral and Badoli villages. Homes in Avai, Pamba, Bairagarh, Bunga, Binak villages faced damages. Water tank, drinking water lines, Amrit Sarovar pond and temple faced destruction in Umroli, Bithyani, Badoli and Maral villages. Both valleys had faced major destruction in 2014 also.
Some houses collapsed in the Veerkatal area of Yamkeshwar. Portion of Siddhapeeth temple was washed away. The bridge connecting Inter College Yamkeshwar was damaged. All major and local roads were blocked by landslides and flash floods. Homes were damaged in Maral, Talai and Khairkhal villages in Neelkanth area. The emergency building in AIIMS Rishikesh was flooded due to some faulty drainage issue.
Uttarkashi: The Bangan area in Arakot under Mori tehsil was battered with excessive rainfall[lii] during August 20 night. However not much information is available in the media. The area had suffered huge destruction in August 2019[liii] due to cloud burst disaster killing more than 20 people and was still waiting for restoration work.
24 August; Rudraprayag: Around 7 villages were affected[liv] by a cloud burst incident in early morning hours on August 24, 2022 in Gharad and Tanyukhar villages under Jakholi block of Rudraprayag district. The flash flood in the Hilaun river invaded[lv] several homes and cowsheds. A foot bridge was washed away while two temples and hundreds of acres of agricultural land were damaged.
24 August; Tehri: A cloud burst incident took place in Moolgarh area of Kedar Fadka tok, in Chirbatiya village in Nailchami patti under Ghansali tehsil in Tehri district around 07:00 am on August 24, 2022 causing significant damages[lvi] to over 15 hectares agricultural land and local crops. The flash flood in Nailchami gadera washed away[lvii] about 4 foot bridges in Soud, Bhatwada, Thela and Kedar Fadaka villages. Irrigation channels were damaged in Tharthi, Thela, Shivpuri and Malyakot villages. The incident also affected power supply in the area. The Mulgarh-Thatri road was blocked near Thatri after the incident.
Next day, the Thatri villagers staged a protest demanding rehabilitation. As per villagers after construction of the Thela-Thatri road their houses were being flooded with mud and debris in absence of proper drainage. They alleged that the administration had done nothing to address their grievances and they were forced to migrate from the village.
September 10; Pithoragarh: About 56 houses in Khotila-Vyasnagar village in Dharchula tehsil were submerged[lviii] in Kali river backflow on September 10, 2022 after a cloud burst incident in higher reaches of Darchula town on Nepal side. The cloudburst occurred in Dallekh area of Bangabagar village across the India-Nepal border around 01:00 am resulting in the death of 6 people 5 in Nepal side and 1 in Khotila village on Indian side. 11 persons were missing in Nepal and more than 30 houses were completely damaged there.
Muddy water carrying debris gushed into the Lasku nullah which in turn blocked the Kali river[lix] for some time creating about 2 km long artificial lake[lx] that flooded[lxi] the residential areas. Khotila villagers were in deep sleep when the area was flooded following which about 150 residents had to run[lxii] for safety of their lives.
About 30 houses were damaged in Salla village. The flash flood washed[lxiii] away a school, 6 small road bridges including Lasku suspension bridge connecting Duhu-Mahakali, 4 vehicles apart from Galati-Ramtoli road, Galati drinking water scheme were damaged affecting more than 7000 dependent population and flood protection structures along the river.
The Ghatkhola area located downstream along the Kali suffered huge riverbank erosion. The flash flood washed away about 9 concrete mixing machines and construction material in huge amounts which were being used in the embankment construction along the river.
During his visit to the affected area, the Chief Minister promised a scientific study[lxiv] of the disaster, treatment of Eldhara hill and rehabilitation[lxv] of all disaster affected villagers in Dharchula, Munsyari region.
25 Sept-Dehradun: The Sahiya, Kalsi and Chakrata area witnessed significant damages following heavy rainfall and flash floods in local streams. Amid ongoing rain a cloud burst incident occurred in the upper part of Amlava river around 07:00 pm on Sept 25, 2022, causing devastation[lxvi] in downstream areas including Udpalta, Sahiya Chhani and market areas. About 4 homes, 5 cowsheds, 6 cattle and 3 watermills, 1 bridge and several farmlands were washed away[lxvii] while several other homes, a bridge and flood protection structures were severely damaged.
In the Kasli area several homes were flooded with debris while cash crops, orchards and 1 bridge were washed away in Amlava flood. In Chakarata more than a dozen villages suffered destruction by flash flood in Kuthnai khad which washed away several farmlands, 6 water mills, irrigation channels, drinking water lines, some footbridges and village pathways.
In this video report[lxviii] a local representative states that dumping of road debris in streams and rivers in the area aggravated the destruction while an elderly said he had never seen this scale of flood in Amlav in the past 60 years.
9 Oct 2022-Pithoragarh: Proably the last cloud burst incident[lxix] so far was reported from Kankhola village under Basod panchayat in Son patti of Munakot block, Pithoragarh district that occurred on October 09, 2022 evening following which the flash flood in local stream damaged agricultural land and village pathways. As per villagers, the same area had faced a cloud burst incident last year resulting in similar damages.
Some Related Reports
September 2022: As per this report the second doppler radar installed[lxx] in Surkanda area of Tehri district has started working. The government has been talking of installing 3 Doppler radars in the state for past almost one decade.
August 2022: This report mentions state government plans of installing 6 more doppler radars[lxxi] in the state including 4 smaller ones in Yamnotri, Gangotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath and 2 bigger ones in main land.
As per this report at least 39 people have lost their lives due to landslide incidents[lxxii] between June 18 and August 28. During this period the state received less than average rainfall (817.8 mm against normal of 954.6mm) and witnessed over 2 dozen big and small incidents of landslides.
July 2022: This report shares details of some cloud burst incidents in past years[lxxiii] beginning with August 1998 in Kali river valley killing around 250 people, September 2015 in Uttarkashi causing death of about 85 people, June 2013 in Kedarnath, July 2014 in Tehri, 05 July 2020 in Dharial village under Duggada block of Kotdwar, Pauri; 10 July 2020 Pithoragarh, 17 July 2020 in Rudraprayag; 20 July 2020 in Vikasnagar, Dehradun; 19-20 July 2020 in Munsyari, Pithoragarh; 21 July 2020 in Kotdwar.
This report explains reasons[lxxiv] behind cloud burst phenomena. Without substantial information, this report claims[lxxv] 1.5 time rise in cloud burst incidents in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. This report mentioned potable water supply lines which were destroyed in a cloud burst incident in Mando village, Uttarkashi last year remaining unrestored[lxxvi] thus forcing villagers to struggle for safe water.
June 2022: This report revisits[lxxvii] Kedarnath disaster and this May 2017 paper reviews[lxxviii] into the available cloudburst mechanism and definition and tries to justify and provide some insight for researchers for better understanding of cloudburst.
We could track 31 reports of cloud burst incidents in Uttarakhand state till date in 2022 of which 2 occurred in pre-monsoon month of May, 28 during monsoon months and 1 post monsoon season in second week of Oct resulting in death of 16 humans and 98 cattles. More than half of these incidents-15 were reported in August alone followed by 11 in July; 2 in Sept.
District wise, more than half of cloud burst events-16 have taken place in 3 districts of Uttarkashi (6), Tehri (5) and Dehradun (5); followed by 4 in Pithoragarh, 3 in Chamoli and 2 each in Pauri, Rudraprayag, Nainital and Bageshwar.
Geographically the disaster has occurred across the length and width of the state from Mori in Uttarkashi along Himachal Pradesh border to Dharchula in Pithoragarh sharing borders with Nepal and China and from lower Himalayas including Haldwani, Dehradun to the higher altitude of Valley of Flowers in Chamoli thus impacting almost every landscape be it urban spaces, hill stations, interior rural parts, tourist spots, pilgrimage routes and areas important from defence perspective.
Google Earth interactive map tracking cloud burst incidents in Uttarakhand in 2022.
In terms of severity, the multiple cloud burst events (at least 6) in early morning hours of August 20, 2022 in 3 districts Dehradun (1) Tehri (4) and Pauri (1) & the cloud burst of Dharchula on Sept 10, 2022 have been most disastrous resulting in all the human casualties and maximum cattle deaths (75) apart from large scale destruction of public & private infrastructure.
These incidents have also been covered widely in electronic and print media even at national level. However there could be several incidents (specially the ‘mini cloudburst’ which has yet to find space in the dictionary of administration and policy makers and is still out of discourse among experts, researchers and medias), remaining undocumented or being inadequately covered. This document has excluded some of such cases while a couple of incidents included here lack required information.
Summary table of cloud burst incidents in 2022
|Time & date||No.||Drainage/ River||Sites||Block/Tehsil, District||Human Death||Cattle Death||Remark|
|07 May, Afternoon hours||1||Local stream, Kosi basin||Bohrakun village area||Bhimtal/ Nainital||01||Irresponsible dumping of muck, derbies aggravated damages|
|10 May, ~03:00 pm||1||Local stream, Saryu basin||Papoli village, Nakuri patti||Kapkot/ Bageshwar||Irresponsible dumping of muck, derbies aggravated damages|
|1 July, Midnight hours||1||Local stream, Tons basin||Changsheel Bugyal||Mori/ Uttarkashi||About 50 goats, sheep killed by lightening|
|05 July Early morning hours||3||Syori, Devalsari, Nasana, Fafrala, Tons& Yamuna basin||Rastadi, Mori Market, Kedarkantha||Purola, Mori Uttarkashi||Reports highlight dumping of road debris at Kharadi & Hanuman Chatti in Yamuna, Rampur village in Rudraprayag & in Jakhan river at Sebuwala village, Dehradun causing flash flood & safety concerns among locals.|
|08 July, Early morning hours||1||Local stream, Saryu Basin||Munar, Rikhadi and Shama areas in Luhar Valley||Garud/ Kapkot, Bageshwar||3 foot bridges, 2 watermills, 2 public toilets, 1 hand pump washed away in flash flood. Several houses, farmlands, vehicles got damaged by debris, sludge along with feeder channel of a hydro project.|
|08 July, Night hour||1||Dwaligad nullah, Kali basin||Chuthrapni, Sainranthi||Munsyari, Pithoragarh||1 bridge was damaged disconnecting the area located along China border.|
|09 July, Morning hours||1||Goula river basin||Haldwani city||Haldwani/ Nainital||Severe urban flooding|
|14 July, Evening hours||1||Local stream, Yamuna basin||Lohari, Lokhandi||Chakrata/ Dehradun||03|
|20 July, Afternoon hours||1||Pushpavati river, Alaknanda basin||Valley of Flowers||Joshimath, Chamoli||About 163 tourists stranded. The area had faced damages after cloudburst incident in August 2021 also.|
|30 July||1||Bheti nullah, Dhauli Ganga||Jhimir, Sobla||Dharchula, Pithoragarh||BRO’s bailey bridge washed away|
|30 July, ~01:30 pm||1||Ramganga basin||Bhararisain||Gairsain/ Chamoli||The area is summer capital of the state. Helipad debris caused damages to forest trees, water sources.|
|01 August, 01:00 am||1||Local streams, Alaknanda basin||Jogadi, Raipur||Srinagar/ Pauri|
|09 August, Early morning hours||1||Local streams, Alaknanda basin||Basti area of Chhinka village||Augustmuni/ Rudraprayag||03|
|10 August, ~08:30 pm||1||Local streams, Ramganga basin||Agarchatti Basti||Gairsain/ Chamoli||Under construction road debris destroyed 3 houses, damaged 10 others|
|10-11 August, Late night hours||1||Kumola, Devdhung, Devalsari gaderas, Malgadh, Kamal, Yamuna basin||Purola town & Market, Naugaon||Purola/ Uttarkashi||About 8 shops including an ATM machine built along Kumola gadera washed away by flood.|
|11 August ~05:00 am||2||Masrad khad, Yamuna basin||Gaideta village, Chapnu in Kalsi||Vikas Nagar/ Dehradun||Structures built close to stream including a government school severely damaged by flash flood.|
|20 August ~02:40 am||1||Local streams, Bandal river, Ganga basin||Sarkhet, Maldevta||Raipur/ Dehradun||6||28||Destruction in Maldevta area was aggravated by encroachments of streams by resort construction, hill cutting and mining activities.|
|20 August 3 in early morning hours 1 ~07:00 am||4||Local streams, Nailchami, Chandra-bhaga Ganga Basin||1 Gwad in Kumalda 2 Sera 3 Malyakot 4 Jakhi,||Dhanulti/ Ghanshali/ Kirtinagar||9||44|
|20 August ~03:30 am||1||Havel, Taal, Satrudra, Bairagarh, Panyari Bhagirathi basin||Binak, Divogi, Maral, Badoli||Yamkeshwar/ Pauri||1||13||Tall & Havel valley had faced destruction in 2014 also.|
|20 August Early morning hours||1||Local streams, Kamal river Yamuna basin||Bangan, Arakot||Mori/ Uttarkashi|
|24 August Early morning hours||1||Hilaun/ Mandakni basin||Gharad & Tanyukhar||Jakholi/ Rudraprayag|
|24 August ~07:00 am||1||Nailchami, Bhagirathi basin||Fadka tok, Chirbatiya||Ghansali/ Tehri||Road muck, debris flooded Thatri village|
|10 September ~01:00 am||1||Lasku/ Kali river||Bangabagar, Khotila||Dharchula/ Pithoragarh||1||The area had faced cloud burst devastation in August 2021 also.|
|25 September ~07:00 pm||1||Kuthnai, Amlava Yamuna basin||Udpalta, Sahiya Chhani||Chakrata/ Dehradun||06||Dumping of road debris worsened damages|
|09 October Evening hours||1||Local streams||Kankhola||Munakot/ Pithoragarh||Same area had witnessed a cloud burst incident last year.|
Cumulatively, cloudburst incidents have significantly damaged hundreds of hectares of agricultural lands including crops, hundreds of homes, animal shelters apart from causing destruction to watermills, drinking water supply lines, village pathways, local roads, foot bridges, vehicles, electric poles etc. in large numbers.
The analysis of reports suggest some locations emerging as cloudburst hotspots in the state-some example of which are Mori, Raipur, Chakrata, Ghansali, Jakholi, Augustmuni, Joshimath, Dharchula blocks & tehsils under Uttarkashi, Dehradun, Tehri, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Pithoragarh districts. Sadly, several villages battered by cloud burst incidents in previous years are still waiting for restoration of infrastructure and rehabilitation of those affected as revealed by some reports.
Amar Ujala 29 June, 31 July, 25 August 2022 reports revealing how irresponsible dumping of road and hill cutting debris have been aggravating destruction during cloud burst and heavy rainfall events affecting several villages under Ghansali, Gairsain and Kapkot tehsil of Uttarakhand.
Dumping of road, hill cutting debris, muck into streams and encroachment of drainage channels throughout the state are proving the second biggest reason for disaster force multiplier after dams, hydropower and large infrastructure projects. This account has documented over a dozen such cases where destruction on ground have mainly been aggravated by these anthropogenic activities.
Despite that government agencies have learnt no lesson and dumping of road, hill cutting debris, rubbles in drainage and encroachment along streams, rivers are rampant across the state triggering a domino effect during cloud burst disaster.
Inadequate Monitoring, Forecasting, Mitigation
Broadly, all the incidents listed above may not meet the meteorological definition of cloud burst, however that is precisely due to absence of rainfall monitoring at the particular locations. Going by the media reports, the administration has not termed more than 10 incidents as cloudburst this season and there is no report in public domain by Meteorological Centre (MC) Dehradun detailing or documenting exclusively the cloud burst incidents in current or previous years. Moreover the present network of all rainfall monitoring stations in the state is totally insufficient and most of the cloudburst incidents are occurring outside its range.
Though MC claims of a rainfall monitoring network covering every block of the state, however there is such a huge variation in rainfall pattern within a block that tracking, documentation would not be possible without taking at least every sub-valley or second order stream basin or every 5 sqkm landscape under rainfall monitoring coverage.
As far as the Early Warning Systems are concerned, the installation of Doppler Radars to predict extreme weather events is moving at a snail’s pace. Secondly its accuracy and utility in the context of cloud burst is yet to be proven. In some instances the district level weather forecasts issued for very heavy to heavy rains have been helpful in activating the disaster response machinery. There is still absence of block level forecast and no mechanism has been developed to alert the villagers living in to be affected or vulnerable zones.
The government is yet to look seriously into cloud burst disaster mitigation at policy, planning and execution level. Some general and opaque guidelines are included in rather ineffective disaster management plans and programs. In reality, most government departments and plans, be it construction of roads, urban development, tourism infrastructure, riverbed mining, muck dumping plans, etc. are only feeding the cloud burst disasters.
Bhim Singh Rawat (email@example.com)
[xviii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5601UlAt24 (
[xix] https://bit.ly/3J0vIsh ; https://www.raibarpahadka.com/2022/07/big-breaking-in-this-village-of-kalsi-two-dozen-goats-died-in-a-flood-like-situation-caused-by-heavy-rains-cracks-in-the-houses-watch-video/