After the death of thousands of people and massive destruction caused by floods in Uttarakhand, experts are of the belief that worse tragedies can strike the region unless there is an end to the violation of the sensitive ecology of the Himalayan state. Environmentalists are putting the blame on indiscriminate construction, dams, ignorance about area’s fragile ecology and uncontrolled tourism. Experts have stated that there should be an immediate stop to unchecked tourism as well as haphazard construction.
Rudraprayag and Kedarnath are among the worst hit areas renowned for religious tourism. Both these towns have witnessed rampant construction over last three decades where several structures have been built along the river banks. Think tank’s South Asia Network coordinator on People, Rivers and Dam, Mr. Himanshu Thakkar stated that one of the biggest concerns is religious tourists arriving in huge numbers. The state is not aware of the number of tourists arriving or leaving and when this disaster struck, it was unable to gain control of the situation.
On Saturday, officials stated that death toll stood at 557 while more than twenty thousand people are still stranded with seventy thousand people being evacuated. NGO Toxics Watch Alliance’s Gopal Krishna stated that every ongoing development project taking place in the hills needs to be reviewed as well as revisited. Apart from that, cumulative impact on Himalayan ecosystem and carrying capacity needs to be studied.
The biggest concern of the experts is that whether any measures will be taken by the government after this mammoth destruction caused by the floods. A similar incident took place in the year 2012 on the month of August when a flood in Uttarkashi led to the death of more than twenty people and collapse of houses much like cardboard boxes. Incidents like these have been occurring at frequent intervals in the Himalayan regions and it is yet to be seen whether the government makes any effort to tackle these issues.