Under directions from the union government, the Uttarakhand health department has decided to declare those missing in the 7 February Chamoli disaster, as “dead”, officials informed the press today.
Of the initial 204 people missing in the Chamoli disaster, search and rescue workers have recovered 69 bodies while 135 are still missing.
Following a notification issued by Uttarakhand Health Secretary Amit Negi on 21 February evening, the government has invoked the Birth & Death Registration Act, 1969, under which the designated government officer will issue death certificates of the missing people to their family or relatives.
The notification stated, “In normal circumstances, the birth and death certificates are issued to a person at the place where he is born or died. But in exceptional circumstances, like the Chamoli disaster, if a missing person is possibly dead beyond all possibilities of being alive but his body is yet to be found, in that case the authorities could declare him dead by issuing the death certificate to his family members after a required inquiry.”
For the purpose of issuing death certificate, the Uttarakhand government has divided the missing people in three categories.
“The first category has the residents of the area near the site who went missing from the site. The second has those from other districts of state who were present at the site while the third category comprises tourists or people from other states who were present at the site,” said Negi in the notification.
He said, “Under the process, family members will have to submit an affidavit regarding the missing person along with all the necessary details to the designated government officer concerned who will then issue the death certificate after proper inquiry. This will help in settling compensation for the families of those missing.”
On 7 February, a glacier breach at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district triggered a massive flood that hit two hydropower projects near the Naina Devi National Park, about 300 kilometres north of Dehradun.