About 100 Britishers could have gone missing in Uttarakhand tragedy

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Dehra Dun : Though the British High Commissioner in India, James Beamon had categorically said earlier that he was not aware of how many British nationals were in Uttarakhand when the tragedy struck the Kedarnath Valley on the night of June 16-17, but a survey conducted recently fears that about 100 of them could have been missing in the flash floods.

The survey conducted between Sept 23 and 26 by Action Aid in the affected cities comprising Rudraprayag, Agastmuni, Ukhimath, Chamoli, Srinagar, Karanprayag and Hardwar and Rishikesh reveals that about a 100 families from Britain had reportedly informed the British High Commission that their family members were either lost or missing after the tragedy.

It was not immediately known how many of these missing persons had got back in touch with their family members in the months that had lapsed after the tragedy and whether they had informed the High Commission here. It may be mentioned that besides trekkers, Uttarakhand also attracts a number of yoga and spiritual seekers who are known to move around in the higher reaches of this small hill state.

Incidentally, fingers are also being raised at the Uttarakhand government for not making certain issues public. For example it is quiet on the number of Nepalese who may have gone missing in the tragedy. It is al known fact, that a number of Nepal citizens, worked as labourers in the higher reaches, but neither were they registered, nor was there any headcount of them.

Also the number of mules that have gone missing after the tragedy is yet to be known. The members of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals did make trips to Kedarnath immediately after the tragedy, but the state government remained quiet on the about 8000 mules that were said to be in the Kedarnath, Gauri Kund and Ram Bara areas, for ferrying pilgrims to Kedarnath and back from Gauri Kund.

Meanwhile fears have also been allayed of the fact that a number of dams are coming up over a fault that passes through Uttarakhand, which could have devastating affects. There was also mention of the fact that the use of dynamite and the construction of roads in the higher reaches and tunnels for hydro-electric projects had weakened the young Uttarakhand Himalaya mountains.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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