Fury of flash floods around Amarnath shrine

We know that natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, flash floods etc occur not only tremendously quickly and without any warning but the extent of death and destruction as also devastation wreaked many a time is enormous. Just a few years back, say in 2013 , death and destruction caused by torrential rains and flash floods in Kedarnath in Uttarakhand makes one shiver with awe and agony just at recalling how natural disaster took a heavy toll of the precious lives of pilgrims. Unfortunately, something similar on that pattern, happened on July 8 near the Holy Amarnath shrine which as per the latest reports has claimed 16 lives of pilgrims and more than 43 pilgrims continue to remain missing. More than 15000 persons have been rescued and moved to safety which looking to the most difficult geographical conditions of the area concerned, at an altitude of over 13500 feet above sea level, is not an ordinary accomplishment.
While the catastrophe is believed to be as a result of a sudden cloudburst coupled with heavy rains , those acquainted with the unspecified weather conditions and the topographic position of the pilgrimage route and the specific place itself, can well imagine what would have befallen those who got affected by the cloudburst. The same is collaborated by the pilgrims themselves who were safely evacuated from the affected areas thanks to the efforts of the rescue teams. They are on record having been witness to harrowing situation of how hundreds of tents and community kitchens got swamped in a lightning speed by flash floods , mud and large rocks so much so that some pandals even two kilometres away from the cloudburst site too getting affected. The evacuated pilgrims raising “Indian Army zindabad” were all praises for the combined teams of the Indian Army, the NDRF, ITBP, JK Police etc who ”forgot everything else excepting how to rescue pilgrims”. The rescue operations are still going on , especially to trace out the missing 43 pilgrims. However, the yatra stands suspended for the time being. The pilgrimage which started on June 30 amidst heavy and unprecedented security arrangements was going on normally and smoothly all these days till the natural fury struck it.
While President Ram Nath Kovid, the Prime Minister and the UT Lieutenant Governor have expressed serious concern over the tragedy and conveyed condolences to the bereaved families, the Union Home Minister has directed the central forces and Jammu and Kashmir administration to ensure swift rescue and relief measures. Army choppers are doing exemplary job in rescuing pilgrims and providing relief to the deserving. Two additional medical teams have been rushed to the affected area. There are four helpline numbers made available by the UT administration to enable people get the information about the unfortunate incident. At the same time, Shri Amarnath Shine Board has informed that a decision on the early resumption of yatra will be taken only after the rescue operations were over. The fact that thousands of pilgrims are already en-route the pilgrimage and heading towards the destination , it is extremely important to resolve that issue so that it does not turn into any sort of crisis as they cannot be asked to return. However, since safety of the pilgrims must be the first priority of the UT administration ensuring no hazard level of any form, we would , therefore, like to impress upon the Shrine Board that although the aim and the desire of those pilgrims having reached Panchtarni or being on way to the holy shrine was to visit and pay obeisance , a decision to resume the pilgrimage should be jointly taken carefully by the concerned UT authorities , the security forces, the J&K Police etc after being fully satisfied about all the safety parameters .
We do not cast aspersions on the arrangements made for and facilities provided by the UT administration to the pilgrims throughout both the routes to the Holy shrine , one from the traditional Pahalgam- Chandanwari route as well as the other from the Baltal route but looking to the unpredictable weather conditions in the area , monitoring weather conditions have remained subservient to ensuring security arrangements . Although the type of the sudden flash floods and gushing water wreaking devastation everywhere could have not been precisely predicted , least prevented but looking to the heavy rains around the shrine area since early morning , those people who could not pay obeisance started collecting and taking refuge in camps and community kitchens to wait for an early “darshan” . If it would have been duly regulated for safety measures and prevented overcrowding , perhaps the devastation could have been mitigated. However, we have our fingers crossed since in no case, can we fight , least overawe the powerful and unpredictable force of nature. It must be observed that nature’s fury and anger , of late, have been on the rise and manifested itself in tragedies like Kedarnath, tsunamis near coastal areas besides storms, floods, extreme draughts , unprecedented and untimely heavy snowfall in many places in the world , global warming at an alarming rate and now at Amarnath shrine in Kashmir. Nature , it appears , is warning us repeatedly. More interference than required in natural equations are bound , sooner or later, to have adverse reactions. Calling a spade a spade , Amarnath Yatra would mean comprising just barely a few thousands pilgrims mostly sadhus until only two to three decades ago and not last for months but only for a few days . Now, it is in lakhs meaning more pressure on natural sensitivities, particularly the routes both Pahalgam and Baltal and tilting the environmental issues.
Waning and waxing of the Holy Shivling inside the cave being a divinely natural process had started undergoing changes by getting altered merely due to more devotees nearing it for paying obeisance at closest distance hence the alteration in cave temperature which was realised and the process was regulated. That fully indicated how much natural things are sensitive in nature . Sublime force of nature as also its grandeur must be benefited from and enjoyed in limits but its capacity to ruin too has got to be kept in mind if the prohibited line was crossed. Can we heed to it and act accordingly is difficult to answer.