Author : Anirudh Mackar
[Bio: currently pursuing Bachelor of Commerce(B.Com) from the University of Calcutta.He is also a CA aspirant . He is passionate towards writing poems and compositions, though this is his first for a magazine. ]
One of the worst ever catastrophe struck the pristine lands of the state of Uttarakhand on the star-crossed day 17th of June,thereby,causing the advent of the ‘’Doom’s day” .After the whitewash of Orissa in 1999 and the torrential rain of 2005 in Mumbai,this is the third ‘demonic’ downpour in less than 15 years.But this debacle is proving to be the worst of its kind in many decades.This is because more than 4200 villages have been affected with around 11000 people missing and a thousand of them already dead.There is a shortage of foodgrains and other resources in more than 170 villages and the estimation of destruction, not yet accounted for, is proving to be elephantine.
Places of religious importance such as Uttarkashi,Rudraprayag,Chamoli,Pithoragarh and some others are the worst affected areas in this war between nature and mankind.Thousands of houses,buildings,trees,dams,agricultural fields,etc. have been washed away by the ‘calamitous’ flood.Although losses in such natural calamities are inevitable but still the rescue teams of NDRF,ITBP,IAF have helped in the evacuation of more than 82000 people across the state and have also dropped relief materials weighing 150000 kg with the aid of myriad helicopters,bull-dozers,machines and rescue squads.
There can be many causes of this tumultuous destruction by nature. Deforestation,unscientific and unchecked construction of roads with a profit centric mind,mushrooming of hotels,mines and multistoried buildings in ecologically fragile areas,development of scores of environmentally destructive hydroelectricity dams and the root cause for all these is lack of proper governance and execution of environment destructive policies. This has metamorphosed the cloudbursts,rainfall and landslides occurring regularly for about 12 years since the inception of this state, into a catastrophe. This year the flash flood water had tones of silt,boulders construction debris,rocks and Golfs, which found no other escape but the ‘humble’ villages and towns. To aggravate this devilish situation,an early warning system,effective evacuation plans,responsive disaster management teams,cloudbursts forecasting systems,etc. were not in place. It is astonishing to know that Kedarnath didn’t even have a rain gauge(heights of governance failure). Moreover, the tourists in this area has reached 25 million which is almost two and a half times the entire state’s population.
I know many readers would think that this is an impetus to growth so why should it be regarded as a bane and not a boon for the future of the state. Although this has generated huge revenues from tourism but with it ,it has also led to an unprecedented growth of hotels,restaurants,roads and other such places on forest lands,steep slopes and even along the river plains in spite of the fact that Uttarakhand is very fragile,being a part of the world’s youngest mountain range. The presence of 70 dams on the rivers of Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini and another 680 dams under construction process are the arch enemies of these seismically ‘’most active’’ Zones which has contributed the maximum towards this year’s biggest tragedy.
This calamity is an alarm bell for all of us to beware of the threats of global warming which has started plaguing this ‘concrete jungle’ and its inhabitants. We know pretty well that in order to achieve growth and development,we have to sacrifice our forests and deplete other natural and ‘fixed’ supplies of nature .But one question which always strikes my mind is that we can live with limited technology but we cannot live with an optimum amount of water,sunlight,air and other such invaluable resources.People do not give much importance to the environmental concerns and awareness raised by the NGOs and their activists. Even in school we turn a deaf ear to them and treat those periods as free periods where such things are taught. We tend to flout at them without thinking of the fact that when we laugh at nature it gets damaged but if nature laughs at us,hundreds and thousands of us lose our lives. Thus it is high time for us to embark on an ethereal odyssey towards the fortification of mankind against the ‘’fiendish’’ climatic changes caused due to the multifarious demands of man.
There are some suggestions which if followed would curb these apocalypse and bring back the golden days of mankind filled with peace and prosperity such as, the execution of any project should be done only after proper environmental assessments and environmental feasibility reports. Although this initiative was taken by the government but in the recent years more than 200 projects have been approved without complete assessment. Furthermore, sustainable developments should be followed and destructive developments should be discontinued especially in those areas where the land is fragile and young(like the state of Uttarakhand).It is high time for the government to stop indulging in scams and frame policies suitable not only from the perspective of the country but more importantly from the point of view of the environment as well. Infrastructure is a blessing for the economy but it becomes a curse when it compromises with the lives of the ones for whom it is being created. Hence,I would like to conclude by saying that whatever development is to take place,it should only be done after a thorough research keeping in mind that whatever goes wrong and done injudiciously, harms both human beings as well as ecology, so the focus shouldn’t be on the ‘harvests’(puns indented) from such projects. We can recreate the serene and heavenly atmosphere in our country as shown below if we adhere to the above mentioned guidelines and other fruitful advices from the environmentalists.