Despite billions of rupees spent on rehabilitation work following the June 2013 floods, Uttarakhand still bears visible signs of destruction and scars of the tragedy remain fresh among the residents.Environmentalists, locals and experts are disappointed that despite such a massive tragedy no lessons have been learnt and instead similar environment damaging policies are being pursued.Committees formed after 2013 disaster stressed on the need of rethinking dams as they highlighted that dams aggravated the disaster. However, over 450 dams are in the planning or in various stages of development in Uttarakhand and the state is even looking at diluting existing environment norms for more dams. H.P. Upreti, an ex-serviceman lives in the Shakti Vihar locality of the Srinagar town of Uttarakhand. He vividly recalls the day, five years ago, when one of the worst natural disasters struck his hometown. “The water came rushing in. It was everywhere. It’s a scene I will never forget.” Srinagar was one of the worst-hit areas during the devastating June 2013 floods in Uttarakhand. Low lying areas of the town, like Shakti Vihar, were inundated and houses were filled with muck deposited by floodwaters. “Nearly the whole colony was underwater. The whole area was filled with muck brought in by floods. All houses were filled with muck and in some cases, the water had completely covered the ground floor of the house. I suffered heavy damage and everything was destroyed,” Upreti recounted to Mongabay-India while showing the restoration work he carried out. “I got only Rs. one lakh (Rs. 100,000) compensation and that too after a lot of haggling. I didn’t want to shift from here and so, since 2013, I have spent over Rs. 14 lakh (Rs. 1.4 million) to restore my house,” added Upreti, who is now fighting a case for enhanced compensation. Over 1800 days have passed since the June 2013 floods that brought widespread tragedy to Uttarakhand. But its scars remain fresh. Some structures in Srinagar, Uttarakhand still remain submerged and serve as a constant reminder of the tragedy. Photo by Kartik Chandramouli / Mongabay. The disaster that shook the hill state Uttarakhand, a highly disaster-prone state, witnessed one of the biggest natural disasters in independent India’s history when it was hit by heavy rainfall and flash floods across the state. It has been estimated that about 6,000 people were killed, found missing or presumed dead, 4,200 villages were affected, 9,200 cattle/livestock were lost and 3,320 houses were completely damaged due to the floods. A report by the National Institute of Disaster Management said that though all the thirteen districts of the state were hit, five districts, “Bageshwar, Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi” were the worst affected. The disaster coincided with the peak tourist and pilgrimage season which led to significant increase in the casualties and damage. Since then, extensive relief and rehabilitation work has been carried out across the state but the scars of the tragedy are hard to go past. H.P. Upreti suffered heavy loses due to floods and continues to fight the government to get his claim. He is confident that the construction of the dam and the improper muck disposal was the main cause of Srinagar flooding. Experts, both private and from government-funded institutions, unequivocally agree that the magnitude of the disaster caused by the June 2013 floods that ravaged a part of the hill state, had increased manifold due to unabated illegal construction on river floodplains and the government’s relentless pursuit of hydropower projects. Currently, the state plans to develop 450 hydroelectric projects (HEPs) across the state to harness the potential of generating 27,039 MW of power.