The horrifying impact of environmental degradation
The Himalayan tragedy unfolding in Uttarakhand due to Chamoli glacier devastation triggering massive avalanche and flash floods in Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers leaving many dead and missing brought face to face the reality that climate change in the region is the real cause for the deluge
The Himalayan tragedyHimalayan tragedy unfolding in Uttarakhand due to Chamoli glacier devastation triggering massive avalanche and flash floods in Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers leaving many dead and missing brought face to face the reality that climate change in the region is the real cause for the deluge. Though it is a sad moment for the nation already plagued by pandemic and the farmers stir, what is disturbing that no serious measures were taken up to address the deepening concerns even as earth's atmosphere is getting warmer by the day due to greenhouse gas emissions.
As the deluge wreaked havoc to the fragile ecology of Himalayas by swallowing up everything in its way, the massive flooding washing away houses on the banks of rivers and sweeping away the NTPC project completely clearly reveals that the disaster was foretold. Despite, ill-conceived big infrastructural projects including more dam constructions were taken up and are underway in this sensitive region without a rigorous survey which ultimately led to this catastrophe.
This is a serious warning to government and authorities that fleeting attention after a disaster without bothering to hear to the concerns of locals about ecology of the area. Mere announcement of compensation to the families of the victims and then continuing to extract nature's resources endlessly using modern technology characterises that resources are more important and paramount than lives of hundreds of poor villagers lost due to massive flooding is only a recipe for more disasters than prevention.
Notwithstanding the fact that Kedarnath tragedy of June 2013 due to deforestation, ever changing weather patterns and biodiversity loss was a wake-up call, scant attention paid to rectify the mistakes leading to rapid climate changes thereby causing glacial lake outburst and sudden rise in water level lasting hours. This has compounded the problem manifold this time as a result the impact fell on the locals and people working in hydropower projects. As the nature's fury not only washed away the people working on the surface but those working inside the tunnels were trapped even as many succumbed to their fate.
Obviously, the Uttarakhand crisis threw a big challenge to the govt to take drastic steps on priority to save lives that live downstream in villages, towns and cities, it also sounded a warning to authorities to approach nature with respect and humility while listening to the ecological knowledge of local communities who know better of landscapes before going ahead to strategise and execute the plans.
However sounding red alert to people due to large downstream river discharges to help people stranded and retrieve bodies from debris and pray that things return to normalcy rapidly so that rescue work in difficult access areas resume without any problem is understandable but at the same time what is more vital is to understand the concerns about complexity of nature in-depth and heeding to the wisdom of the locals about the area in and around by stopping executing environment unfriendly projects in order to avert unprecedented crisis in hilly region of Uttarakhand in future after the avalanche has caused extensive damage to the ecology.
— K R Srinivasan, Secunderabad