DEHRADUN: The year 2016 is proving to be a terrible year for Uttarakhand in terms of human lives lost in natural disaster incidents. As per official figures, 62 people have been killed in natural disasters like flash floods, cloudbursts, landslides and forest fires as of Monday. Over 64 persons have been injured.
Even animals have had to bear the brunt of nature's fury with around 887 animals including domestic cattle perishing in disasters since January this year. Besides loss of human lives, there has been considerable property loss as well with around 144 houses getting completely damaged and 133 sustaining severe damage in natural disaster incidents.
Elaborating on the reasons behind the high numbers, Santosh Badoni, deputy secretary, disaster management department, told TOI, "Uttarakhand is sensitive to natural calamities due to its terrain. Besides flash floods and landslides which take maximum lives in a year, the state is also one of the most seismic or earthquake-prone regions in the country with majority of its area lying in either the highly vulnerable Zone 5 or Zone 4."
This year, Pithoragarh has been the worst affected disaster-hit district in the state with 17 causalities and eight people missing and feared dead in the series of cloudbursts which ocurred on July 1, triggering flash flood and landslides and wreaking havoc in the Bastadi, Naulanda, Charma and Pathorkot villages of the district.
Even Dehradun district reported 13 deaths due to natural disaster in the present year with as many as 10 workers being killed in a single incident when they were hit by a landslide in the Chakrata area in the month of May. Eight people lost their lives in Tehri district followed by Chamoli district where five persons have been killed this year.
Around 87 drinking water pipelines and 1184 electricity lines were also damaged during the natural disasters in Uttarakhand between January and July.
Data from the disaster management department shows that on an average 73 people have lost their lives every year in the state since 2001, mainly due to landslides and flash flood-related incidents. The average death count excludes fatalities during the 2013 catastrophe which alone killed over 4,000 people.
Overall, since its inception, the state has seen 1,016 people getting killed (excluding the 2013 disaster) in landslides and flash floods. In the last two years, landslides and flash floods have claimed 119 lives.