Saturday, 29 June 2013

Effects of Cloudburst at Kedarnath on the Tourism Industry

Kedarnath - The sought after pilgrim center in India, is today into ruins. One could only see mud, flash floods and slush in the region that entered the regions through the Kedar Dome (mountain peak) and breaking the Charbari lake reservoir. Kedar Dome is located on the spur that projects towards the Gangotri glacier (around 2 km north-west of Kedarnath).

Kedarnath Temple Picture After Cloudburst
How did this take place?
Sources, after communicating with the rescued pilgrims, report that around 6:30 am on 17th June, 2013 (Monday), when people came out of their respective lodgings to collect water, a huge boulder of rock and a chunk of ice was rushing down the mountain, behind the temple. The priests and locals informed and advised the pilgrims to relocate to higher ground as a huge stream had breached due to the breaking of the glacier. Thus, this resulted in covering various villages under water and there is no trace of almost 60 villages. This unfortunate happening has therefore, led to a high number of casualties.

Wide-Scale Destruction - Char Dham Yatra Cancelled:
The heavy rains and floods have led to extensive damaged and thus, the official has reported regarding suspending of the Char Dham Yatra, i.e., Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, for around two to three years. The officials of the Badrinath-Kedarnath shrines said that the places have been desolated and one could only see mud, destruction and death. The destruction is so intensive that Ram Bada, the area near the temple, is no more visible as it has submerged. Even the rescue choppers could not trace the entire 14km trekking route from Gaurikund to Kedarnath through Ram Bada, as it has completely been affected with the cloudburst.

Impact on Tourism Industry:
The officials reported on the unfortunate news of no religious, adventure and eco-tourism in Uttrakhand, for at least 3 years. During the past decade, the state had contributed to the striking growth in the GDP of 9%. According to the recent study, this about 2.78% is contributed by this sector and about 4.59% employment is generated from the same.

The situation of the state now seems to be grimmer as the surveys show about 79.1% of foreign footfall in Rishikesh, which is followed by Haridwar (61.7%), Gangotri Temple(38.3%), Uttarkashi (23.9%), Kedarnath Temple (22.9%), Badrinath Temple (21.4%), Auli (18.9%), Nainital (11.9%) and Gaumukh (11.0%). On an average basis, it is estimated that per day expense of a tourist amounts to Rs. 1119, thus, the loss could be estimated for the coming three years. Along with tourism, sectors like agriculture, fishery, mining and forestry have also been highly affected.

One could only wish and hope for the tourism economy of Uttrakhand to bounce back in shape as soon as possible, as the national economy also depends on the same.


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