Thursday 14 September 2017

Please Do Not portray "Valley of Flowers" in Uttarakhand as Medicinal Flora Basket!

Written by Anil Singh

The other day, I watched a documentary kind of report by Sushil Bahuguna about "Valley of Flowers" or "Phoolon ki Ghati" in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand. It was a well researched and balanced programme, except that some of the information being given was not necessary; and can best be avoided. For instance, there was no need to link the flora (plants, trees etc.) with their medicinal value. Informing the viewers of their ecological importance was sufficient. The very act of linking the flora with their medicinal value will encourage the damage to the already endangered flora in the valley. It must be understood that the multi-thousand crore Rupees Lifestyle and alternative medicine Businesses are already fleecing the fragile ecosystem of its flora and fauna. We don't afford any more ecological damage.

That said,  the documentary also covered the native people's concern over their restricted cattle grazing rights. It also covered the concerns of the tourism and adventure industry over the restricted entry of people in the valley.

To keep the subject simpler, irrespective of how one sees these concerns, the increaed cattle grazing and human footfall in the valley will only damage the valley's fragile ecosystem. More cattle grazing and more human trekking in the area will only deteriorate the valley.

To conclude, those who know Uttarakhand Hills, will easily tell you that cattle grazing (cow, ox, goat, buffalo etc.)  does irreparable damage to pastures. The cattle while grazing uproot the grass on these meadows which results in barren meadows and pastures. Those who have never been close to an agrarian life in Uttarakhand hills can ask those who at some point in their lives have lived there. They will instantly tell you that one of the biggest threat to grasslands, hill slopes and meadows are the goats. A tract of land once grazed by goats takes months to recover. That is why to this day many villages don't allow "Bakarwals" (Goat husbanders) to enter their village pastures.

Last but not the least, if the portion of Himalaya's within Uttarakhand is to be sustained, then NO one including us must market and encourage the perception of Uttarakhand being a land "Full of Medicinal Plants and trees". It will denude our hills and bring more devastation in the form of flash floods, land slides etc.


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