When greed comes before Moksha, even the Gods don’t help. Uttarakhand, described as Devbhumi , the abode of Gods, has turned into a graveyard of pilgrims after the disastrous flash floods brought by the recent torrential rains. Collective greed that can’t be blamed on one party or government; the government’s neglect and apathy for alarming environmental issues and repeated warning signs, and an unprecedented influx of tourists has brought the state crumbling down. “The Kedar region is finished. We are devastated. The people of the Garhwal have defeated themselves by making wrong choices. So demoralised, depressed and numb are the people of Uttarakhand that they have lost the energy to help their own people,” says Girish Joshi, a BJP worker in Dehradun.
The locals are paying the price in their own State. To save its shorn image, the insensitive government ordered tourists be rescued first. People of Uttarakhand are deeply pained by this move.
The brunt of the tragedy has fallen upon Kedarnath. While 12,000 people are still missing, locals fear, many thousands are either dead under the thick layers of mud or washed away. In Garurchatti, 800 pilgrims are believed to have been stranded. Sources say they cannot be rescued before a few days. Rescue would be on a one to one basis. The life of these people life depends on food packets air dropped by army choppers and prayers.
The rescue operations are being grossly mismanaged. The Jolly Grant Airport is a good 30 km away from Dehradun city, yet, enquiry desks and relief desks are being set up in Dehradun and Haridwar when they should have been set up in Rishikesh and higher up in Gauchar and Harsil. In Dehradun, young volunteers who are willing to fly down to Kedarnath are not being allowed to be part of the rescue operations. These people know the Kedar Ghati like the back of the hand. They could be a helping hand to our brave jawans who are rescuing the ill and the old, inching down the inhospitable slopes.