Ecological Challenges In Himalayas - Eastern Mirror
Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Editorial

Ecological challenges in Himalayas

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 02, 2024 12:25 am

Ecological degradation in the Himalayan region is a matter of grave concern as it is prone to disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, cloudbursts, flash-floods, forest fires, etc., yet, numerous construction works have been taken up in the region over the years to improve connectivity and infrastructure. Sensing the vulnerability, the Supreme Court has proposed the setting up of an expert committee to conduct a complete and comprehensive study of the Himalayan region to regulate developmental activities. There is also demand to cease all ongoing projects in the Himalayan region till safety audits to examine ecological effects are completed. An amalgamation of more than 50 social and environmental organisations have signed the ‘People for Himalaya’ declaration highlighting the vulnerability of the mountain range to climate disasters. It has submitted a five-point charter to all major political parties of the country to seek support in the ‘Save Himalaya’ campaign. Arguing that rampant destruction of the Himalayas will bring severe distress to the country, the organisation has urged the government to make necessary amendments to the existing acts to prevent recurrences of tragic incidents like the Chamoli flash-flood, subsidence of Joshimoth and Chungthang dam collapse. The organisation argued that implementing the recommendations will help avoid disasters in Himalayan region.

Global warming is another reason to revisit the viability of many ongoing projects in the Himalayan region. For instance, there are 300 glaciers and 350 glacial lakes upstream of the proposed Etalin Dam in Arunachal Pradesh, which will support the hydropower projects downstream. But the hydel power production capacity of the project may go well below the targeted capacity as the area of the glaciers are likely to sink nearly 60 per cent by 2050 due to global warming, which will create water scarcity for the projects. Moreover, thinning of glaciers are responsible for unnatural formation of lakes.   

However, the demand to stop all major construction works in the Himalayan region is not new. Environmentalists have been warning about the consequences of rampant destruction of ecology in the region for years. As a matter of fact, the famous ‘Chipko Movement’ was launched  more than five decades ago to prevent the destruction of forests for commercial activities. Since then, several movements have been launched to protest such activities in an effort to protect ecology. But unfortunately, most of these movements have failed to achieve their objectives for more reason than one. Now, learning a lesson from earlier failures, various environmental organisations have joined hands to speak in unison, which may create an effective grassroots resistance against indiscriminate mega projects in the Himalayas.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 02, 2024 12:25:37 am
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