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'Wakeup call ignored': Village 30 km from Joshimath 'suffered similarly' in Feb 2021

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 
Reni witnessed massive flash flood on February 7th, 2021 because of the bursting of a glacial lake on the river Rishiganga, which originates from the Nanda Devi peak. The devastation at village Reni, about 30 km from Joshimath,  and later at Tapovan and Vishnuprayag, was intimidating. Over 200 lives were lost and property and livelihood of many villages were lost. 
The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) power project at Tapovan was completely washed away. A few other bridges which link Reni to the border areas also swept in the rising waters of both Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga.
Reni today is declared unsafe for living. People want alternative place. I visited the place in December 2021 and recorded conversation with local people and activists, who were part of the Chipko movement. The 45 minutes video tells us about his experiences of the movement and the people. 
Listening to them, one would realise why the movement of which he was part of collapse and how local people and their issues were kept aside by a powerful elite who have connections and vocabulary to articulate.
What is happening today in Joshimath is a wakeup call. We should have learnt our lessons from the Reni tragedy but it did not happen. The video documentary is an attempt to highlight people's voice on a village which became symbol of people's resistance against the destruction of their livelihood and environment.
*Human rights defender



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