The Himalayan state of Uttarakhand was once again hit by natural disaster on Sunday, bringing back the painful memories of 2013 when the state suffered one of the worst natural disasters when widespread heavy rains resulted in floods across the state, claiming thousands of lives and damage worth billions of rupees. As per media reports, massive ice blocks broke off the glacier due to a temperature rise, releasing a huge amount of water and causing massive damage. A dam known as the Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project has been destroyed. So far 18 people have been reported dead and many people are still missing. It is a wake up call for the Himalayan states including Arunachal.
Most of these states are disaster-prone and have suffered from several natural calamities in the past. The only way to remain safe is not to play with nature. The development should be balanced by respecting nature. Sunday’s disaster in Uttarakhand should force governments of Himalayan states to review hydropower power projects in the ecologically sensitive mountains. It is believed that several hydropower projects and the massive 900 kilometre long all-weather Chardham highway widening project being built at a cost of Rs 120 billion (12,000 crores) are posing a big threat to disaster prone Uttarakhand. In Arunachal, too, many hydro and highway projects are being recklessly taken up without properly studying the environmental impact. The government of Arunachal should learn a lesson from the repeated major disaster hitting the fellow Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.