More than 40 people have died and hundreds are stranded as floods wreak havoc in various parts of Uttarakhand. Towns like Nainital and Almora are cut off due to heavy landslides.
Some regions are also facing fuel shortages, with little or no fuel available in Ranikhet, around 320 km from Uttarakhand’s capital, Dehradun. What’s left has been reserved for emergency services.
Low-voltage electricity has been restored after 24 hours, and fibre optic cables (providing telephone and internet services) have been cut in multiple locations.
According to a report by the Times of India, several people are reported missing, fearing that the death toll will rise.
Heavy rains in Nainital and adjoining districts on Monday and Tuesday caused flooding in eastern Uttarakhand, was the heaviest ever recorded in the region, and another indication that the loss of local ecology due to the climate crisis and changes in land-use patterns has started wreaking havoc on the Kumaon hills.
“Apart from Mukteshwar, the rainfall has also broken records in Pantnagar in Udham Singh Nagar district, which had reported rainfall of 228mm on July 10, 1990, has now in the last 24 hours, received 403.9mm rainfall,” said director of the meteorological centre Dehradun Bikram Singh, as mentioned in a report by the Hindustan Times.
Singh attributed the spurt in extreme rainfall events in the area to the climate crisis, saying that heavy rainfall in short spells has increased in the state — a phenomenon that has been confirmed by various studies conducted by IMD and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology between 2016 and 2020.
A BBC report quoted experts saying higher temperatures have meant lesser snow in the Himalayas – and this, coupled with heavy rains, is pushing large volumes of water downstream, triggering flash floods.
Some news reports have confirmed that the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) deployed 16 teams which have rescued some 300 people so far.