Updated: February 9, 2021 5:35:37 am
In fear of a recurrence of more calamites after disaster struck the area on Sunday, residents of Raini village spent Sunday night in the forest, about 1-km from their homes. In an area where the temperature dips to 1-2 degrees Celsius at night, the villagers have decided to spend more nights in the open.
“We decided on Sunday to spend nights in the open forest to prevent any loss of life if a fresh disaster occurs. We are avoiding staying home at night because if any disaster like a landslide or flood occurs at night, we will not be able to run for shelter,” said Sohan Rana, grandson of Gaura Devi, who had led the Chipko movement in 1973, aimed at the protection and conservation of trees in Raini village and its adjoining areas.
A gate has been erected at the village to recognise Gaura Devi’s contributions, and the names of all the participants of the movement are displayed on it.
“The irony is that a village that is known for its ecological consciousness has faced a massive disaster,” said Bhawan Rana, pradhan of Raini Chak Subhai village, that is separated from Raini Chak Lata village by the Rishi Ganga river and a road that stretches to the China border.
Rana said that village was completely deserted Sunday night and it will remain so every night for next few weeks. “Inside the forest, women and children stay in Gaushalas and the men stay out in the open,” the pradhan said.
Radha Devi (65), a villager who was an eyewitness to the flash floods, said, “I am in a state of shock… The bridge almost few off after the flash flood struck it.”
She said her husband Balwant was herding their goats when the disaster struck. “I shouted to call him back, but the flood reached near him in a few seconds. For a while, I thought that he is no more… fortunately, the flood passes a few feet away from him and he survived. But the goats were swept away,” she said.
Raini Chak Lata village has lost connectivity with the main road after the motorable road was washed away in Sunday’s flood. The village pradhan, Shobha Rana, said she was in Joshimath when the disaster struck, while her in-laws were in the village. “I have no contact with them. There is no power supply there. The administration is trying to supply essentials by helicopters,” she said, adding that three people of her village are missing.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines