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Uttarakhand Landslides and Flood: a Man Made Crisis

The Himalayan State of India, Uttarakhand on 16 June 2013 of June 2013 faced one of the toughest situations of the century in form of a natural disaster with landslides and flash floods. Landslides are one of the major forms of natural disaster in the Himalayan ecosystem as it lies in Seismic Zone 5 (the area that is most prone to Earthquake in India).

This landslide and flashflood in the state have been termed as a manmade disaster by several environmentalists and the region behind the blame is speed of mining activity and construction of roads and hydropower projects in the area, which is not supported by the kind of biodiversity of the region.

The recent natural calamity in Uttarakhand took lives of thousands as per official and recorded data, but as per the survivors of the crisis, the story is completely different with more than ten thousands dead.

Rescue operations (Operation Surya Hope) is in process to save the survivors of the disaster. The Indian Air Force, Army, ITBP personnel are engaged day and night to help the people struck in the Himalayan state.

Whereas, when seen from the perspective of geologists, if stricter regulations would have existed then the losses from the destructions would have been lesser. Every section of the society is having a different story to say following their scientific knowledge, belief in God and nature and many more things. Few are blaming the central and the state government for turning their blind eye, towards plundering the hills.

The heavy rainfall created havoc by affecting the fragile nature of the Himalayan range that is known for its poor soil stability in its steep slopes. Apart from the stability of soil in the peaks of the youngest mountains of the world, the other reasons for the disaster as per the expert are: the blind expansion of the hydro-power projects and unplanned construction of roads in the Himalayan region, to match up with the demands of ever increasing traffic in the area.

Geologists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee and Civil Engineering Department (Hill Area Development) Bureau of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in their report to the Uttarakhand Government have blamed the Unplanned Construction of roads for the disaster faced by the state.

The entire watershed across the 135-km stretch between Gaumukh and Uttarakashi along the Bhagirathi River in December 2012 was declared, as an eco-sensitive zone under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. As per the act, all sorts of construction activity in the region required a complete ban and if it would have been implemented than it would have resulted in the closure of the Hydropower project along Bhagirathi River. As per the provisions of the act, ban on mining and all other types of construction activity in the area needed a complete ban, but the decision has always been opposed by the state government with a claim of barring the development activity in the Himalayan state. Hence as per the experts, mining and construction of big hydropower projects are one of the big reasons behind the disaster that killed thousands in Uttarakhand.

A landslide is the gravitational movement of a mass of rock, earth or debris down a slope. Landslides are usually classified on the basis of the material involved (rock, debris, earth, mud) and the type of movement (fall, topple, avalanche, slide, flow, spread).

Impacts of Landslides
Landslides are one of the most hazardous forms of destruction in mountain regions across the world. Its impact depends upon the type of materials that comes in its way and the weakness of these materials. The landslides in the mountainous and hilly region is a result of dam construction on the hills that blocks the way of the river, bringing up the valley inundation creating pressure on the lake water, resulting in flash floods (floods in which debris flow downwards).

@Haryana Government Adopted 25 Affected Villages of Uttarakhand

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on 30 June 2013 announced that the Government of Haryana adopted 25 villages of Uttarakhand that was drastically affected by landslides and heavy rains in June 2013. 

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced that the Haryana Government would provide financial assistance to the affected people in Uttarakhand. The Haryana government has also set up the support helpline, while also sending the relief supplies in trucks to the affected state.

In the meanwhile, around 1000 people from Haryana were rescued from Uttarakhand. The Union Government had earlier allocated 150 crore rupees as interim relief for the flood affected people of Uttarakhand.

Uttrakhand in the third week of June 2013 was stuck by flash floods and landslides. During this natural disaster in the state, thousands of people lost their life and various remained stranded. Rescue operations by Indian Army were carried out in the state. The worst affected region of Uttarakhand was Kedarnath, which is a popular Hindu shrine and receives lakhs of tourists every year during June and July.

India's Taj Mahal ranked among the Top Three Landmarks in the World

TripAdvisor's 2013 Travellers Choice Attractions Awards ranked India's Taj Mahal among the top three landmarks in the world. Taj Mahal was ranked third in the list of Top 25 landmarks.
The top two places were taken by Machu Picchu in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia respectively. The winners of Travelers' Choice Attractions awards were determined based on the quality and quantity of traveler reviews of attractions.
Taj Mahal, listed among the new seven wonders of the world, is renowned the world over for its architecture and aesthetic beauty. Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal, the white marble mausoleum in the northern Indian city of Agra is also a symbol of enduring love.
In 1983, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Taj Mahal attracts 2-4 million visitors annually, with more than 200,000 from overseas. It shares the latest honour alongside Petra World Heritage Site in Jordan and Bayon Temple in Cambodia, which are ranked fourth and fifth respectively in the list of 25 top landmarks in the world.

Sydney Monorail Came to an End after 25 Years of Service


Sydney on 30 June 2013 bid adieu to the futuristic monorail, also known as white elephant. Monorail has remained the heart of Sydney for almost 25 years. It is important to note that the State Government of New South Wales in March 2013 had announced that it would bring down the rail link. 

Monorail in Sydney connected the Darling Harbor to the central business district. 

The government of Sydney, in turn encouraged the people to have a final ride on the monorail over the last weekend of June 2013. The proceeds of the ticket sales were meant to be given to charity.

The monorail would now have cost too heavily for the government if it would have been upgraded. Now, it would be replaced by the light rail service.

About the Sydney Monorail

• The Sydney Monorail was originally called TNT Harbourlink. It was later renamed Metro Monorail.
• It was a single-loop monorail of Sydney which connected Darling Harbour, Chinatown and the Sydney central business and shopping districts.
• It was initiated in July 1988 and was finally closed down on 30 June 2013.
• The 3.6 km loop had seen stations in all. Four trains operated simultaneously.
• It catered to the people on major attractions as well as facilities such as Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Powerhouse Museum and Sydney Aquarium.
• The Sydney Monorail was operated by Veolia.

Closure of the Sydney Monorail

• The Sydney Monorail as well as light rail service was bought by the Government of New South Wales from Metro Transport Sydney on 23 March 2012 so that it could extend the light rail service without negotiating with private owners as well as removing the monorail from Haymarket-nearby area which was required for expanded Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
• Finally, the operations of monorail were ceased on 30 June 2013 and eventually, it would be dismantled. 
• The parts of monorail rolling stock as well as the track would be displayed at the Powerhouse museum Pymont.

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