Wednesday 19 June 2013

India needs to see Uttarakhand as Fragile Ecosystem

Written by Anil Singh

India needs to see Uttarakhand as Fragile Ecosystem. What does this mean? More so, after the recent natural calamities in Uttarakhand.

This means, more than 80 percent of Uttarakhand needs to be preserved. Preservation here means keeping the Hills, forests, river origins in their pristine state (not including Dams for Hydro power, as they are inevitable for the state's economy and country's growth) .

To me, all these landslides and floods are pointing to our inability to preserve Uttarakhand's ecosystem, most part of which is the Himalayan Ecosystem. These mountains are not capable enough to take the burden of Lakhs of pilgrims each Yatra Season. That apart, imagine thousands of pilgrims reaching the river origins(from where rivers originate) of Ganga and Yamuna, each yatra season. This is nothing but playing with the fragile Himalayan Ecosystem.

We should take lessons from the massive floods and landslides in Uttarakhand; and seriously think about regulating the tourist flow to Uttarakhand Shrines. The regulation doesn't mean curtailing the tourist flow. Regulation means having a mechanism wherein the tourist flow is intelligently and logically regulated. For instance, since most of the shrines are at high altitudes, hostile to human endurance; one way of regulating the tourist flow is to make Health fitness mandatory for the pilgrims. Something the administration does for Amarnath and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. With respect to River origins -- they are not meant to be visited by humans. For obvious reasons.

This brings us to another question: What will be the revenue sources for Uttarakhand, if not religious tourism and forests?

The Answer is Government Grants. Uttarakhand, like Western Ghats is the litmus test for India's overall ecological health. This means, all the states must contribute to preserving Uttarakhand.

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