The Uttarakhand High Court in Vijay Bahadur Singh Rawat vs. State of Uttarakhand & others has issued mandatory directions to the state government regarding the reconstruction of infrastructure that faced damage due to 2013 floods in Kedarnath valley.
A bench comprising Justice Alok Singh and Justice Rajiv Verma delivered the judgment taking note of the fact that children were being forced to go to their school on a makeshift path, endangering their lives, and a direction for speeding up the process of development was, thus, issued in public interest.
The petitioner, Vijay Bahadur, submitted that a massive damage had been caused due to non-construction of RCC walls along the banks of river Bhagirathi and the vast area between Gyanshu- Joshiyara- Uttarkashi towns, along with the college, got severely damaged.
He claimed that the development work had not commenced in a right perspective.
Rawat prayed for construction of RCC walls on both sides of rivers flowing through the area more particularly Bhagirathi river.
The state and its authorities such as the Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVN) and the Public Works Department (PWD) of the state filed statements that tenders were invited and the reconstruction work was being carried out in full swing, but due to the unexpected deluge of 16th and 17th June, 2013, Assi Ganga and Bhagirathi rivers caused hindrance to the progress of ongoing work. According to the authorities responsible for the redevelopment three tenders were floated for:
(1) River training works on the left bank of Bhagirathi river near Tiloth Power House complex
(2) River training works, including miscellaneous associated works on both banks of Bhagirathi river as per requirement from Jhulapul to Tiloth Bridge to switch yard of MB-1 at Uttarkashi, and
(3) Lastly, the construction of protection wall around the Reservoir of Joshiyara Barrage of Maneri Bhali, Stage-II HEP at Uttarkashi.
The state further emphasised that in June, 2013, damage was caused to 2,072 roads and 258 bridges in Uttarakhand and out of 2,072 damaged roads, 2,068 were opened to traffic in a short period and rest four roads, which were completely washed out, were proposed to be reconstructed in the near future under the World Bank funded “Uttarakhand Disaster Relief Project (Roads & Bridges)”.
Further, out of 101 washed out bridges that are required to be reconstructed, 25 bridges have, so far, been reconstructed. Ten bridges were under construction, 16 bridges were under tender process and the rest 49 bridges are proposed to be reconstructed under World Bank funded “Uttarakhand Disaster Relief Project (Roads & Bridges)” for which DPRs are being prepared by design and supervision consultants.
The court observed that the state government has taken steps to restore the infrastructure that faced massive damage from the floods. However, the general public was still facing enormous difficulties. Accordingly, allowing the PIL, the high court issued the following mandatory directions in the larger public interest: