Questions are being asked about the recent flash floods in the state of Uttarakhand, the northern part of India, where hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands have been left stranded. Were these flash floods the devastating result of climate change or were they brought in place by man due to unregulated activities?
Extensive mining and deforestation in the area, the real estate boom, new hotel developments, hydro dam projects and unregulated tourism have all impacted negatively on the local environment. These issues require immediate attention and demands government to struck balance between development and environment
One recent, govermment-introduced advancement has been that the ban on building along rivers in the flood-hit north. The Chief Minister of the state also announced that a regulatory body would be set up to scrutinise future construction.
Actionaid, in its article about flash floods, said that deadly north India floods were largely due to rapid deforestation and aggressive construction work along riverbanks in the state of Uttarakhand.
The government investment in improper infrastructure i.e. construction of more than 245 hydroelectric dam and mining projects along the 14 river valleys in the Uttrakhand state in a decade, has posed an enormous ecological threat. Forests have been destroyed, hills have been blasted and rivers have been diverted for these projects, all which has led to enormous soil erosion and landslides during the floods. Additionally, the flash floods received a boost from the construction debris which raised water levels.
An article by Peter Shadbolt of CNN, Indian floods a man-made disaster, looks at environmentalists' point of view, stating that the floods and mudslides were an ecological catastrophe waiting to happen. "A real estate boom in the region has also resulted in new developments going ahead without adequate planning permission." Experts also believe that unregulated development and unregulated tourism exacerbated the disaster.
Natural and man-made actions have played anrole and now thousands of people are bearing the brunt. Help is needed and it’s required now. International and Local NG’s are doing their best to help the needy and the state through contribution and voluntary work. You can also contribute on your personal level through selecting an organisation, such as GOONJ, evaluating their work and donating to their emergency action fund in order to enable them to work efficiently.
Souparno Banerjee of the Centre for Science and Environment said "Development is important but we need to keep in mind the very delicate eco-system that you're working within," he said. "The Himalayas are the biggest mountain range in the world but they are also extremely fragile."
Author: Ajay Pal Singh Chabba/ RESET editorial
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