Uttrakhand floods are one of the consequences of excessive human intervention in nature's scheme. Increase in irresponsible human activities of encroaching into nature's territory produced such unacceptable and brutal results. Demand for energy and needs of ever increasing population have forced the human to exploit natural resources without considering its impact over the environment.
Unchecked emission of green house gases such as carbondioxide and methane by automobiles, thermal plants, industries etc have resulted into global raise in temperature which resulted into melting of the glaciers causing rise in water level. Intra governmental panel on climate convention have asserted that weather related disasters are the result of global warming and climate change. However, no one paid any head to it in context of Utrakhand.
The Chipkoo Andolan during the 1990's raised the demand of the hill state in which they promised greener growth, afforestation of denuded slopes and conservation of community forests for the local use.
However, after the creation of the Utrakhand in 2000, state bureaucracy, left behind the essence of Chipkoo movement and embarked upon the conventional way of economic development.
Instead of reforestation, state allowed clearing of forests for industrial sector – pharmacy sector, cloth mills, and sugar mills. This boosted the economic growth of the region but it was at the expense of the destruction of its natural resources. The core objective of sustainability was lost in the greed of monetary benefits.
Roads were built economically keeping least expenditure as norm, compromising with the safety. Mountains were torn down for creating road by blasting explosive and creating tunnels. It made fragile slopes more prone to landslides and get easily eroded away in case of heavy rainfall, aggravating the misery.
Change in type of vegetation is considered as another factor in loosening of soil. Natural tropical forest was replaced by other vegetation for financial gains, resulting into barren slopes.
Ill conceived Hydel power projects and construction and development of hotels and buildings near the river banks brought considerable encroachment in the natural flow of river.
Though flash floods could be considered as natural phenomenon, but the exploitable human actions have aggravated the situation and resulted into the severe misery for thousands of people.
Himalayan region is prone to such events and excessive interference with nature's plan brings disastrous consequences. In last 15 years weather related disaster have increased and shall be more frequent if sufficient checks and balances are not imposed. Section of people has termed this event as Himalayan tsunami. The event was no less than tsunami, in context of destruction it created, but in term of the cause, terming it as tsunami shall be partially correct. Tsaunami is the result of disturbance in the tectonic plates which is totally a natural event but in Uttrakhand floods were weather related disaster.
Uttarakhand tragedy was one of the most heinous and barbaric face of nature. Havoc created by this disaster is deplorable. Uttrakhand floods are wakeup call by nature to human generation. If excessive exploitation and interference is not curbed in time it may lead to very severe damages to mankind.
Government should introduce new policies related to such disaster prone regions and suspend the earlier policies causing threat to the environment.
Though industrial growth is important for economic growth it should not be at the cost of environmental factors affecting millions of lives. Sustainable and greener growth is though slow, it is environmentally friendly and free from such threats. The future roadmap to develop Utrakhand should be based on eco friendly planning, and disaster management team should be well prepared in advance to face any such crisis.
- Kamaldeep Singh