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The official death toll of 2013 Uttarakhand floods stands around 5000, not 25000

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A lengthy social media post which makes multiple claims about the 2013 flash floods which struck Kedarnath in Uttarakhand is being shared widely across platforms. The post claims that the death toll because of the devastating floods stood at 25,000; the then Congress government started relief work only after four days; Government paid Rs. 760 crores for removal of the corpses etc. Let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.

Claim: Death toll of 2013 Uttarakhand floods stood at 25,000; The then Congress government started relief work only after four days ; Government paid 760 crores for removal of the corpses.

Fact: According to a report released in 2014 by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), a total of 169 people died and 4,021 had gone missing, who were later presumed to be dead. This makes the total deaths around 5,000. IAF launched ‘Operation Rahat’ and took part in rescue and relief immediately. Further, the then PM conducted an aerial survey and announced Rs. 1,000 crores relief fund and ex gratia to the aggrieved families as well. Hence, the claim made in the post is FALSE.

The same news has been doing rounds on social media since 2020. Earlier in May 2021, General V.K. Singh, now Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways and Civil Aviation through a tweet made the same claims regarding the 2013 Uttarakhand floods. In all likelihood, these claims had gained traction after this tweet of General V.K. Singh. Let us look at each claim made in the post below.

Death toll :

In June 2013, Uttarakhand has witnessed one of the deadly floods in the history of the state, leaving behind a large death toll. Further, the devastating flash floods had caused colossal damage to roads and public infrastructure, worst hit was the Kedarnath shrine because of the melting of the Chorabari glacier.

As far as the casualties are concerned, according to a report released in 2014 by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), a total of 169 people died and 4,021 had gone missing, who were later presumed to be dead. Over the years, news agencies have reported the same numbers as the official figures of casualty.

Even in the case of considering the missing persons as dead, the total death toll would be around 5,000, much less than 25,000 as claimed in the post.

The then Government reacted lately?

It all started on 16 June 2013 with torrential rainfall leading to floods wreaking havoc in the state. As per the press releases from the Ministry of Defense dated 18 June 2013, IAF assistance has been provided in the relief work upon receiving requests from the flood-hit states. IAF has commenced operation Rahat in order to provide assistance to rescue and relief works.

A press release from PMO dated 18 June 2013 states that PM Manmohan Singh has spoken to the then Uttarakhand Chief Minister and assured him of all assistance regarding the rescue and relief operations. ITBP forces swung into action even before the army & air force and aided in conjunction with the district administration.

On 19 June 2013, PM along with then UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi conducted an aerial survey in the flood-hit areas and took stock of the situation. PM has announced 1000 crores relief fund for Uttarakhand and also announced ex gratia for the aggrieved families. ‘Ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 2 lakh each to the families of those who have lost their lives and Rs. 50,000 each to those who have been injured will be provided from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). Further, we will also provide from the PMNRF ex-gratia assistance of Rs.1 lakh each to those whose houses have been completely destroyed and Rs. 50,000 each to those whose houses have been damaged’ reads the press note.

From the press release mentioned above, we can infer that the government responded with immediate relief measures contrary to the viral claim that the government has responded four days later after the situation grabbed the attention of the international media.

760 crore tender for removal of dead bodies :

While it is true that the devastating floods have left hundreds of dead bodies under the debris, we could not find any news reports or official documents regarding the then government spending such a whopping amount for the removal of dead bodies. If that has been the case, media would have definitely reported it.

Moreover, as mentioned above, when the official death toll is around 5000, the total tender wouldn’t amount to such a huge sum as mentioned in the viral post.

To sum it up, the death toll of the 2013 Uttarakhand floods stands around 5000, not 25000.

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