We can’t stop but can lessen ecological disasters in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand has been witnessing number of earthquake tremors, repeated landslides, massive flash floods in the past since decades especially the Srinagar Earthquake of 1803 which claimed unaccounted number of lives, giving golden opportunity to the Gorkhas to capture Garhwal kingdom and let loose their terror.

The numbers of such ecological disasters n natural calamities are umpteen but the Kedarnath tragedy of 2013 termed as the man made disaster left hundreds of warning signals n lessons to be learnt for the successive governments and the human beings but of no avail thus inviting yet another tragedy in the form of glacial outburst in Nanda Devi peak killing more than thirty five people and disapearence of about 170, majority of those working in NTPC’s Vishnugad Tapovan Hydropower project worth Rs. 13500 crores with 530 MG power producing capacity under construction.

Both the Rishiganga n Vishnugad hydropower projects have been completely destroyed with losses approximatedly valued at Rs. 1500 crores.

The loss of lives in Kedarnath tragedy was immense leading to over seven thousand deaths and collossal loss of thousands of crores of Rupees with hundreds of villages fully devastated.

The tragic story does not end here as there have been umpteen different versions and predictions of various earth scientists, glaciologists, siesmologists and what not, unambiguously, from time to time predicting future fatal earthquakes, high velocity flash floods, glacial bursts and excessive rains etc thus indicating that the future of Uttarakhand Himalayas is extremely bleak sitting in an ecological time bomb which may explode any time.

I fondly remember that after the Kedarnath tragedy followed by the Nepal catastrophe of ecological disaster that led to massive earthquake killing unaccounted number of people n Kashmir floods, there had been predictions of Uttarakhand likely to witness a massive earthquake of more than 8 on the Richter scale creating havoc in Uttarakhand upto even Delhi (keeping in view its extensive intensity) from day one to next fifty years.

This prediction of eminent world class n Indian seismologists, earth scientists is available in Google.

The point is what role can the human civilisation play ? Can these catastrophes be stopped in future ? The answer is flat no.

However, these disasters can be lessened and precautions exercised to get rid of them to a great extent.

The man made challenges inviting extensive ecological disasters in Uttarakhand Himalayas are to be blamed solely for these repeated occurances of natural calamities claiming precious human lives n extensively destroying our flora n fauna.

In Uttarakhand, despite the cautious warnings and dangerous predictions of seismologists, glaciologists, earth scientists about formation of hundred of glaciel lakes due to global warming as a result of massive constructions, heavy traffic, green house emissions, sound pollution, dynamite explosions etc compounded with our growing fragile mountains becoming hollow from inside due to construction of hundreds of kilometres of tunnels, making our already fragile mountains vibratory n further weak including encouraging massive number of hydropower projects on buffer zones and residential, commercial constructions on river sides have posed direct threat to the ecology n environment as well as to the unaccounted number of human population.

These man made disasters have now become the order of the day with lives of those living in the Uttarakhand Himalayas always in precarious danger.

Today Uttarakhand has 86 big dams and several lesser big dams having been build completely, after badly playing with the fragile environment n ecology including massive unfriendly environmental development with lakhs of trees being cut inviting flash floods posing direct threat to peoples lives. There are several serious reservations of Hydropower projects built in ecologically fragile locations completely ignoring n throwing to winds the scientific evidence including exercising inadequate planning and absence of precautions.

Development undoubtedly is mandatory but not at the cost of precious lives say enlightened environmentalists.

If one looks at the ongoing rail development and over ambitious Rs 12000 crores all weather roads project in Uttarakhand not only had hundred of kilometres of tunnels been dug making our already fragile mountains hollow allegedly prone to inviting catastrophic disasters in future but extensive cutting of green trees and dumping of thousands of tons of muck in the river making them further squeezed, with explosions at times, will also add to the already existing worrisome ecological n environmental situation of Uttarakhand witnessing earthquakes, flash floods, outbursts of lakes and glaciers etc killing hundreds of innocent people for no fault of theirs.

According to a news report after the deadly Uttarakhand disaster of 2013 when the honourable Supreme Court took congnizance of the massive ecological tragedy putting an end to the construction of big dams in Uttarakhand, they were the successive rulers who submitted the Affidavit in the Apex court to continue the construction of big dams in ecologically n environmentally fragile Uttarakhand this highly fiscal deficit state running in extensive losses has to buy power every year to the tune of Rs. 1000 crores which is beyond its capacity to bear.

The Congress govt in 2017 n the BJP govt in 2020 allegedly gave their green signals by submitting their affidavits of consent for a go through enabling seamless constructions of big hydropower dams say news report of HT.

Pic: social media n HT


Sunil Negi

Sunil Negi is a senior journalist and president of Uttarakhand Journalists Forum ( Regd). He usually writes on socio political subjects and have been contributing articles in print media for the last several years. Mr. Sunil Negi had been felicitated by All India Achievers conference's Pride of India and excellence awards apart from several other recognitions. He has translated a book on ecological disaster of Uttarakhand of June 2013 and edited and published two editions of Uttaranchal's Who's Who.

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