M A I N   N E W S

Rain Fury
Almora, Nainital count their losses
Rajeev Khanna
Tribune News Service

Villagers take stock of the damage caused by floods and landslides in Almora district.
PICKING UP THE PIECES: Villagers take stock of the damage caused by floods and landslides in Almora district. — A Tribune photograph

Chaamriya (Almora), September 27
The stretch between Garam Pani to Kwarab is the area that is on the border of Nainital and Almora districts and has been the worst affected in the recent rain related disaster in the state. Together, the two districts of Almora and Nainital have pegged their losses at well over Rs 900 crore.

District Magistrate of Almora Subardhan told The Tribune that in the Almora district, the losses are well above Rs 500 crore and it is the Almora tehsil of which the villages of Kwarab and around are a part that is worst hit.

According to the office of Kumaon Commissioner Kunal Sharma, there have been 43 deaths in Almora district out of which 38 have been recorded in Almora tehsil and 36 bodies were retrieved. Almora tops the districts of Kumaon for the number of deaths. Kumaon division has recorded a total of 115 deaths.

Subardhan said the other devastated villages are Balta, Deoli, Pilkha, Joshiyara etc. He said relief camps have been started at several places and the emphasis is on transporting essentials like foodgrains and kerosene to these villages. “The road between Garampani and Kwarab would take months to be restored. The other routes to Almora have been opened,” he disclosed.

Over all the 190 residential premises have been totally devastated in Almora district while 1988 have been partially damaged. A total 0f 10,257 people from 2,373 families have been affected in the rain related incidents. The district has also recorded death of 155 cattle heads. The administration claims to have disbursed a sum of Rs 46 lakh under various heads till Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, the district administration in Nainital has put the losses in the recent disaster at more than Rs 400 crore.

Following a meeting of various departments held here on Sunday afternoon, the District Magistrate Shailesh Bagauli has stated that the maximum brunt amounting to Rs 290 crore has been borne by the roads while irrigation canal network has incurred a loss of Rs 50 crore. He said about 5,500 hectares of land has been devastated in the disaster.

Bagauli has pointed that the exact information about the losses incurred is taking time to trickle in on account of lack of connectivity with far-flung areas. It was said while 101 houses have been totally devastated, 2,080 residential properties have been partially affected.

The district has recorded 20 deaths and 15 persons have sustained injuries in the incidents. The worst affected areas in the district are Okhalkanda, Ramgarh and Kaushyakutaoli Blocks.

The villages around Chaamriya fall under the latter two blocks.




In hour of despair, together they stand
Tribune News Service

Chaamriya, September 27
In the worst disaster hitting villages of Uttarakhand where the districts of Nainital and Almora share a border, it is a sheer feeling of togetherness in despair and plain human bonding which is helping people survive amidst all odds.

It is difficult to believe that the Almora highway that once offered a pleasurable drive with the hill on one side and the gurgling Kosi on the other has simply vanished in large parts. What remains is a picture of devastation. Amidst all this, the people are sharing, along with the sorrows and sufferings, whatever little resources they possess.

The truck drivers are liberally giving away whatever edible or other essential commodities are available with them and in return the villagers are offering them food and even shelter where required. One is compelled to salute the grit of the people stranded on the way when they still show the courage and boldness to switch on the music on their CD players installed in the vehicles or they get down to play a game of cards in the shops whose mere structures have survived and there is no chance of customers turning up for weeks to come.

District Magistrate Shailesh Bagauli had instructed to utilise the government supply of foodgrains that was being carried in the trucks that got stranded for the public. Food is being prepared for the stranded persons at two spots on the road near Jurasi village.

Santosh Joshi, a truck driver who is stranded at Lohali village told The Tribune: ”I was taking the vehicle from Haldwani to Gangolihat. We were lucky to have stopped here and have been staying put for the past eight days. I sleep in my truck and the villagers have been kind enough to provide me with food on daily basis.”

The Tribune encountered Shiv Singh, a septuagenarian who had walked 12 km amidst the rubble and boulders just to enquire the welfare of the people with whom he has had an acquaintance over the years as well as those stranded here. “I am in no position to help anyone with money or essentials. But I know that if I patiently listen to the woes of the people it would help a lot. The Kosi had risen to the similar levels about six decades back but at that time the pony track from Almora to Garampani had survived its wrath.”

There were enough people to console Hansi Devi who sat weeping outside her devastated house bitterly. “I cannot forget the joys we had shared. How all the children of the neighborhood played in the garden outside my house and how we all discussed daily affairs of life. Today everyone is in deep sorrow and all we can do is just sit idle with no way visible to overcome them.” Children still play outside her house but the garden is no longer there but there are only the remains of houses that have been washed away.

Despite all odds there are people who are travelling long distances just to provide help to others. Indu Bisht, a teacher has been traversing long distances helping the distressed.

Similarly, Girish Pandey who is a resident of Majera village has been attending to his job at both the Dhania Kot and Lohali dispensaries walking several kilometers a day. “ I just make it a point to be there. Even if there is no epidemic in the area, I am there to boost the confidence of the people,” he says.





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