By- Tanisha Pandey
Uttarakhand high court has directed the Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology to suggest scientific ways within a week that can be adopted to trace the 3,075 missing bodies of the 2013 Kedarnath flash flood victims, said Ajay Veer Pundir, the counsel of the petitioner, Ajay Gautam.
On Monday, the HC gave these directions while hearing a PIL filed by the Delhi-based Gautam.
The PIL had stated directions from the Court to the authorities concerned to take expedient steps to search the missing people in the natural disaster, which had struck the hill state’s Rudraprayag district on June 16, 2013, in a bid to perform their last rites in accordance with the Hindu tradition.
So far, 699 bodies/skeletons/remains have been retrieved from the Mandakini valley, where the Kedarnath shrine is located.
The Court had ordered the Govt. of Uttarakhand in Nov, 2016, to form special investigation teams (SITs) to trace & cremate the bodies of the victims, & consequently in the kedarnath tragedy, five SITs were set up in May, 2017.
Pundir said the High Court had accepted their plea last year to approach Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology as a respondent in the case in a bid to seek its technical support & suggestions in tracing 3,075 people, who are missing since June, 2013.
On Sept 4, 2019, the Uttarakhand Govt had filed an affidavit regarding kedarnath tragedy, stating that digging the fragile Himalayan terrain to trace the bodies of 3,075 people could cause “irreparable damage to the ecology,surrounding & the environment”.
It had stated that “There exists no technique or technology by which the presence of a human body can be detected under the pile of debris or deadwood. It is technically and practically not possible to pinpoint the location of human remains under the debris. The unearthing of human remains be left to the forces of nature & the state government is committed to DNA sampling & ceremonial cremation of these missing bodies.”
Gautam suggested to the Court that a committee of experts should be constituted so that we could come up with some mechanism to recover the missing bodies & their last rites are performed as per the Hindu tradition.