Nature’s Fury Against Human Impact
Experts are yet to ascertain the exact cause behind the disaster in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district. But what is already known is that the tragedy was waiting to happen. Rampant destruction of nature in the name of development, mushrooming of hydro power plants above 2000 meters, blocking water channels and last but not least global warming, etc. are responsible for loss of human lives and properties. The unfortunate incident also shows that we are yet to learn any lessons from previous disasters that took place in the Himalayan region, such as the 2013 flood in Kedarnath, Kashmir flood in August, 2015 and a number of other incidents. Till date, no earnestness has been shown in implementing the recommendations of the Supreme Court appointed Ravi Chopra Committee, constituted after the Kedarnath tragedy.
Even a child in India knows how important the Himalaya is for the survival of this sub-continent. But despite repeated appeals, construction works in the Himalayas have not stopped. Everyday new resorts, hotels, residential apartments are being developed in the hills and some are being constructed clandestinely. The land mafias in collusion with unscrupulous businessmen are violating environmental norms every now and then with political backing. This is why, notwithstanding the order passed by the Uttarakhand High Court banning the use of explosives to save the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and the Valley of Flowers from destruction, explosives are still being used for illegal mining. Again, to prevent loss of life in wake of such calamity, the High Court also ordered the installation of warning systems. But till today there has been no compliance.
In wake of this utter neglect, the Himalaya is posing a threat, rather than being a boon. As per a 2019 survey, in the present century, Himalayan glaciers are melting twice as fast as it used to in the previous century. The study further revealed that temperature in the Himalayan region has risen one degree on an average in the present decade, researchers have reached this conclusion after closely examining satellite images of the Himalaya. Reports suggest that the recent tragedy happened with the breaking off of part Nanda Devi glacier, while some experts have expressed the view that excess melting of glaciers put enormous pressure on glacial lakes and that caused the flood in Dhauli Ganga River.
It is argued that men are virtually helpless while facing natural disasters and to a large extent, this is true. But awareness can always lower the degree of destruction. Even the severity of flood in Dhauli Ganga could have be lessened if the water channels were not blocked. It shows that from Kedarnath to Kerala, the cause of the disaster remains the same. Safety and security of the people are still being compromised. As we are continuing to play with nature, we are facing it’s fury at regular intervals. It appears that we have taken a vow not to rest in peace till the fragile ecology of the Himalaya is completely destroyed.