In one of the first consolidated reports on Uttarakhand floods,the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) under the Union Home Ministry has said that climatic conditions combined with haphazard human intervention led to the disaster. The preliminary report has been prepared by a five-member team led by NIDM director Satendra. The final report is still awaited.
The report states that the flood situation turned bad because the area has been denuded by deforestation and tree cutting for construction of roads and buildings,mining and hydel projects.
One of the professors who conducted the study said the Srinagar area was submerged under 10-12 feet of sedimentary deposits as debris from an under-construction hydel project was dumped on riverside.
The NIDM concluded that Alaknanda river and its tributary,Mandakini,has started flowing along its old course where houses have been built. Dr Surya Prakash,associate professor with Geohazards Risk Management Division of NIDM,said the government will have to relocate settlements along the the river as it will continue to flow on this course for sometime.
The hazard became a major disaster when people occupied such areas without adequate information,awareness and preparedness against the potential disaster, the report said. It stated that Mandakini changed its course to the west side when the moraine-dammed lake at Gandhi Sarovar breached.
The sediment loaded river began eroding/dumping whatever came its way. Most of the hotels,shops,guest house and lodges were on this side and were washed away by the river, the report said.
Prakash said apart from assessing the loss,the government will have to educate people to not build house along the river. The deforestation and cutting of trees has also led to increased surface flow and rise of river bed due to disposal of debris. Geologically,rocks in this area are highly deformed,degraded and dissected by structural discontinuities and drainages. Seismo-tectonically,the area is traversed by lineaments,faults and thrusts,which are considered to be geodynamically active, the report said.
The area had suffered an earthquake in 1999 that led to loosening of rock masses,ground cracks and landslides. Thus the natural terrain conditions combined with climate or weather conditions and haphazard human intervention made a conducive environment for such a hazardous process in the valley, the report said.