Uttarakhand glacier burst: Govt allows officials to declare 136 missing persons as 'presumed dead'

The move has been initiated to expedite the process of disbursing compensation among the kin of the survivors and victims, said state's health secretary

Press Trust of India February 23, 2021 19:41:11 IST
Uttarakhand glacier burst: Govt allows officials to declare 136 missing persons as 'presumed dead'

Damaged dam of the Rishi Ganga Power Project, after a glacier broke off in Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river on 7 Febraury 2021. File Image. PTI

Dehradun: The Uttarakhand government has issued a notification authorising officials to declare "presumed dead" 136 people still missing after the flash flood in Chamoli district over two weeks ago.

Sixty-eight bodies have so far been recovered after the 7 February disaster possibly triggered by an avalanche.

A devastating flash flood demolished a 13.2 MW hydel project along the river besides causing extensive damage to the NTPC's Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project along Dhauliganga. About 35 people were feared trapped inside a tunnel in Tapovan. The debris and sludge has only been removed from a portion of the tunnel.

Uttarakhand Health Secretary Amit Singh Negi said on Tuesday that the presumption of death can be made by officials in the affected district only in case of missing people, who in all likelihood have died in the disaster but their bodies have not been found.

Normally the missing are declared dead only when they are not traced for seven years after the incident responsible for their disappearance but in case of an extraordinary occurrence like the one witnessed in Uttarakhand special provisions can be made, he said.

The move to declare those who continue to be missing in the flash flood as presumed dead has been initiated to expedite the process of distribution of compensation among the affected families, he said.

The notification was issued on the basis of an SOP issued by the Centre in this regard on 21 February, Negi said. A similar SOP was issued by the Centre after the Kedarnath deluge of June, 2013 in which thousands of people were killed and left missing.

The SOP was formulated on the request of the state government by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, he said. In normal circumstances, the death is registered only on the reports from persons mentioned in section 8 of the Registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) Act, 1969.

However, in extraordinary cases like the one in Uttarakhand, reports from public servants after due enquiry can be made use of for registering the deaths,the notification said.

As regards people whose body has been found, it is needless to state that the normal process of issuing death certificates should be followed, Negi said.

In case of missing persons, who in all likelihood have died but the body is not traceable, all reasonable efforts should be made to determine that the person has in all likelihood died in the natural calamity, the official said.

According to the notification, the missing have to be divided into three categories — permanent residents present in the affected areas during the catastrophe, residents of other districts of Uttarakhand who happened to be in affected areas and tourists/persons from other states who were present there at the time of the catastrophe.

The notification also gives details of the process of enquiry to be followed in case of those missing in the three categories.

The designated officer should conduct a detailed enquiry regarding the missing person. Based on the enquiry, the officer should issue a speaking order regarding the provisional presumption of death. He should then ensure publication of the list of missing persons provisionally presumed dead in the newspaper, government gazette in Hindi and English and also host the same on the government website for the purpose of obtaining Claims and Objections.

Claims and Objections should be received within 30 days failing which the designated officer should issue the death certificate and make it available for free to the next of kin of the missing.

Updated Date:

Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply

also read

Uttarakhand flood toll reaches 62 as one more body recovered at NTPC site; 142 still missing
India

Uttarakhand flood toll reaches 62 as one more body recovered at NTPC site; 142 still missing

Thirty-three bodies out of the 62 recovered so far have been identified, police said, adding the DNAs of unidentified bodies are being preserved

Uttarakhand floods: Rescuers begin widening hole in Tapovan tunnel to find missing people; toll rises to 38
India

Uttarakhand floods: Rescuers begin widening hole in Tapovan tunnel to find missing people; toll rises to 38

A hole with a diameter of one foot will help send in a camera to ascertain the location of the workers believed to be trapped inside the tunnel and a pipe to flush out accumulated water from the tunnel, an NTP official said

Uttarkhand floods: Toll rises to 35, 169 still missing; water rise in Dhauliganga briefly halts rescue ops at NTPC tunnel
India

Uttarkhand floods: Toll rises to 35, 169 still missing; water rise in Dhauliganga briefly halts rescue ops at NTPC tunnel

Uttarakhand governor Baby Rani Maurya, who visited the Tapovan tunnel to take stock of the rescue work, had to face the ire of the kin of those trapped inside the tunnel as well as relatives of those who went missing after the barrage at the same hydel project