12 Jul 2023

Why Devastation Caused By Heavy Rains In Devbhumi Himachal Not Unexpected


The devastation caused by heavy rains and floods in Himachal Pradesh, which is called Devbhumi or the land of God, is not unexpected.

In the last several decades, this hill state, the center of tourism, has tried to follow the path of plains in terms of development and its result is clearly visible in natural calamities.

Whether it is construction of a four lane highway in weak mountains or digging of tunnels for hydro projects, the state has always ignored the warnings of environmentalists. Due to this, mountains and stones move from their place.

Heavy, haphazard and unsafe construction is taking place everywhere and construction waste is reaching the rivers and their tributaries. Together, all these have increased the devastation of the rains.

Unscientific river mining 

Alleged unscientific river mining in Himachal Pradesh has also raised concerns about the increased risk of such disasters.

Environmentalists feel that one reason for the devastation caused by swollen rivers, especially the Beas, in Himachal Pradesh is particularly clear.

And it can be compared to the flood in Sutlej river in the year 2000. Then there was a huge devastation in the city of Rampur, there many people were living in the houses built near the river.

Construction has reached close to river in Beas river valley

Even in the Beas river valley, the construction has reached very close to the river, thus increasing the risk of damage due to flash floods.

This has actually happened, the water coming at a high speed in the Beas changed its course and washed away many houses, vehicles, animals and parts of the National Highway between Manali and Mandi.

Anyway, the speed of Beas is fast in this area and the water is not far away from the road.

Environmentalists say it's time we adopt a model of development in this tourism-driven state that is eco-friendly. We cannot tamper with nature beyond a point. Unscientific development, blasting of mountains and dumping of debris of construction works without planning and uncontrolled number of vehicles plying on hill roads can have adverse consequences. We are not able to realize it.

118 hydro projects in HP, 67 in landslide zone

A 2017 research by the National Institute of Disaster Management revealed that there are a total of 118 hydro projects in Himachal Pradesh, out of which 67 are in the landslide zone.

When hydro projects were being set up in tribal-dominated districts of Kinnaur, Kullu and many other parts of the state, environmentalists and affected local citizens opposed them and many public campaigns were also conducted.

But the then ruling political parties ignored them.

Environmentalists are aware and are looking towards political leadership to play a bigger role in the long run by re-orienting the development perspective to protect the environment.

It is time we learn a lesson

Noted environmentalist Kulbhushan Abhimanyu, a resident of Chamba district and a part of the Chipko movement, says, “It is time we learn a lesson from this fury of nature, the reason for unbalanced development at the cost of the environment in this eco-sensitive and ecologically fragile region. Nature's anger is increasing."

Abhimanyu asks, "Look, what are we doing to our beautiful mountains by playing with nature. In return, nature is becoming dangerous for us. Why do we need four-lane roads, big infrastructure or hydro projects?" 

He says further, "Why do we need the projects that are hollowing out mountains from within? Why don't we study the carrying capacity of mountains and rivers before starting such projects so that the environment can be saved."

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