Disaster Situation in 2013

Before the onset of SW monsoon the state experienced abnormally high rainfall between 15th and 17th June, 2013 that resulted in a number of landslide, cloudburst and flood events throughout the State. Heavy precipitation augmented the river discharge and almost all the major rivers crossed the danger level. Traffic was disrupted along almost all the National Highways and link roads and more than one lakh pilgrims and tourists from all over the nation and abroad were stranded at many places.

Disruption of telecommunication link with the disaster affected areas added to the confusion. The situation became particularly bad in Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Bageshwar. Large population in these districts was cut off from the mainstream and there were reports of shortage of essential commodities across the state.

Worst disaster however took place in the Mandakini valley in Rudraprayag district on the night of June 16 and in the morning hours of June 17, 2013. It was this blockade of Mandakini on 16 June, 2013 that led to impoundment on the channel to the west of Kedarnath. The embankment on the left bank of the channel soon gave way and the abandoned channel of Mandakini to the east of Kedarnath became active. It was this event that resulted in washing off of some people in the late evening of 16 June, 2013 from Kedarnath that was thus waterlocked. Rising level of the landslide dammed lake and possibility of loosening of a series of glaciers forced the barrier to give way and the ensuing floods devastated Rambara and Gaurikund as also pedestrian bridge over Mandakini near Kedarnath. All connectivity with the area was thus completely snapped.

Continuous rains caused the level of water in Chorabari Tal to rise. With the recession of the glacial ice the lake had a weak moraine barrier that could not withstand continuously rising hydrostatic pressure. Stage was thus set for a major disaster in Kedarnath and the barrier gave way around 0700 hrs on 17 June, 2013. The volume of water was enormous and it carried with it huge glacial boulders and outwash material that ravaged Kedarnath. There was absolutely no warning and most people were taken by surprise and had no time to respond to the event. Besides Kedarnath this event caused devastation in Rambara, Gaurikund, Sonprayag and other places.

This kind of loud burst and ensuing flash floods in Kedarnath was not an isolated event. Similar catastrophe struck mountains all over the higher reaches of the Himalayan terrain spreading across Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath Ji, Hemkund Sahib and mountains  along the Holy Kailash Mansarovara Yatra route. All rivers originating from Higher Himalayas received particularly heavy rainfall, flash floods and loosening of glaciers and there was devastation of unheard magnitude along the banks of Yamuna, Bhagirathi, Bhilangana, Mandakini, Alaknanda, Pinder, Gori and Kali rivers.