Book Review and Recommendation of Rage of the River by Hridayesh Joshi

Rage of the River – The untold story of Kedarnath Disaster

“Rage of the River – The untold story of Kedarnath Disaster”  presents on the ground report about the Kedarnath disaster that shook the Uttarakhand mountains in year 2013. Hridayesh Joshi is a freelance journalist working for various media houses and worked with NDTV and India Today. He is known for his understanding and reporting on environmental issues and its impact on the society. When this book came out I knew that I will get a fact based account of the disaster and also will get know about the probable causes of it.

The book broadly presents  three things. First, what exactly happened on the fateful day and immediately after it, second, how the government responded to the calamity and third, what are the causes of this catastrophic disaster.

The author being a journalist presents the facts meticulously. He presents the whole scenario of how it happened, speaking and interviewing the local shopkeepers, villagers, stranded travelers, government officials and the rescue workers on the ground. The book gives you a viewpoint of how chaos and panic situation was created, and how the state government mishandling made things worse. The official figure put the death toll under 5000, but the locals and the relief workers who played a critical role in relief work from day one estimate that death toll in the range of 12000-15000. Such was the scale of the disaster.

The book also presents views on the unsustainable “development” projects in the Himalayan mountains and their impact on the environment. There are ample evidence that it is a man-made disaster and if we don’t do anything about it we might witness more of such catastrophic disaster in the future as well. It talks about the continuous exploitation of the mountain state in the name of development and how it is not a sustainable model of “development“.

A great book to understand the enormity of the disaster, the probable causes behind it, and the lack of successive governments in chalking out a sustainable development plan for the state.

Hridayesh Joshi being a journalist has written the book giving a lot of facts along with the story. The book is about on-ground reporting mostly, and you get to feel it while reading. At times the facts and figures may become overwhelming for some, however, the book keeps you hooked. The book is written in simple English and the chapters are organised well.

All in All, “Rage of the River” is a fine read for everyone who wants to know and understand the enormity of the disaster and the probable causes behind it. Furthermore, people who are interested in reading about environmental issues and their impact on our society must read this one.

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