Arora V & Murthy M (2016) Re‐discovering Uttarkhand’s Cultural Identity: Issues for consideration during post‐disaster reconstruction. In: Johnson C & Conference Scientific Committee (eds.) Reconstruction and Recovery in Urban Contexts. Conference Proceedings. 2015 international i-Rec conference Reconstruction and Recovery in Urban Contexts, London, 06.07.2015-08.07.2015. L’Observatoire universitaire de la vulnérabilité and la reconstruction durable (Œuvre Durable), funded by Fonds de recherche du Québec, Société et culture (FQRSC), Canada. http://www.grif.umontreal.ca/i-rec/i-Rec2015/conferenceIREC2015papers.htm
Abstract The Himalayan Flash Floods of 2013 devastated entire cities and settlements in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India. Evidence suggests that rapid urbanisation, poor construction practices and a political disregard for the delicate ecosystem of the Himalayan ranges in the past few decades have all contributed towards the state’s vulnerability to natural hazards. However, even a cursory examination of many of the investigations into the causes behind other past and
present disasters lead to conflicting theories on the extent of human impact and remain inconclusive. Turning towards the reconstruction approaches adopted, it is realised that literature is abound with debates between traditional and modern methods. Proclamations
about the superior system of construction, both traditional and modern have met with limited success owing to practical, technological and economic constraints in the hills. Besides, looking
at the specific example of Srinagar it is found that even after a catastrophic history, including an earthquake 1804, floods in 1894, 1970 and 2013, the city continues to flourish and thrive. Each
time the city rebuilt itself changing its identity from the ‘modern’ Gola Bazaar area, to the introduction of steel and cement concrete in the 80s and mushrooming commercial urban expansion post 2000 statehood. The three phases of Srinagar’s (re)construction were put to the test during the 2013 floods when large swathes of development, most of it relatively recent were heavily damaged or washed away. Even in the face of such devastation, the sacred realm of Srinagar offered strong support and refuge to its people and carried them through the harsh period of recovery. This is a revelation in terms of understanding the critical feedback loop in
operation within any successfully resilient system and Srinagar has certainly proven to be so through its 600 year long journey.