Thousands of people lost their homes and jobs in the worst-hit districts of Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh with authorities predicting that the state will take years to recover from the effects of the crisis that befell the state on June 16-17. (Agencies)
TV footage of riverside structures and temples collapsing like a pack of cards and flowing down the swirling waters of rivers in spate, human skeletal remains lying scattered in the open in the calamity-hit areas are hard to forget.
Though not new to calamities with cloudbursts and landslides being an annual affair, Uttarakhand had not known a disaster of this scale in which not just humans but a well known stopover destination for devotees on way to the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath like Rambara, a bustling township near Gaurikund, vanishing without a trace with all those who lived there and did tourism-related businesses.
The magnitude of the tragedy can be gauged from the fact that uncertainty hung for months over the exact number of people killed and missing with authorities wary of specifying a figure, saying many bodies could be lying under tonnes of rubble left in the wake of the deluge.
When the deluge struck, lakhs of devotees from different parts of the country had converged at the Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri to pay obeisance out of which only about 1,20,000 could be evacuated to safety by the end of the mammoth rescue operations carried out by the armed forces.
According to an official figure, over 5,000 people from different parts of the country went missing in the tragedy, who are now presumed dead with the process of payment of compensation to their kin underway.
The Bahuguna government came in for much criticism by the Opposition for its ‘shoddy’ handling of the crisis with the BJP demanding his dismissal. The ruling Congress came to his defence, saying that he had done a commendable job considering the massive scale of the tragedy.
The June calamity caught the attention of the entire country because of the sheer scale of death and devastation it left in its wake forcing some other developments considered otherwise important for the state fade into oblivion.
The state government's decision to build a Vidhan Bhawan at Gairsain in Chamoli district and hold a session of the state Assembly there at least once in a year for example was momentous in its own way because of its emotive connotations for Uttarakhand, a hill state carved out of Uttar Pradesh on the basic premise of boosting development in the hills.
As the year began drawing to a close, Uttarakhand was back in the news with a record of over 90 cases of gross violation of land laws and stamp duty evasion, lodged by the Congress government in a space of two months against yoga guru Ramdev's Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust.
The action prompted BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to remark at a rally in Dehradun that if the Congress government in Uttarakhand spent even half of its energy it is ‘wasting’ over investigating Ramdev on rehabilitating victims of mid-June calamity, their fortunes would have turned around.
Senior bureaucrat JP Joshi hit the headlines as a woman lodged a case against him at a police station in East Delhi accusing him of raping her after promising her a job in the state tourism department.
Joshi lodged a counter case of blackmailing against the woman and three of her accomplices soon after being booked in the case.
However, Joshi, an additional secretary (home) was placed under suspension and arrested early this month.
Thousands of people lost their homes and jobs in the worst-hit districts of Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh with authorities predicting that the state will take years to recover from the effects of the crisis that befell the state on June 16-17.