Maintain balance

Joshimath the sinking temple town in Uttarakhand, may be in the news recently but the problem of land subsidence is not confined to one district or a state. Across the Himalayan region this is becoming a big threat. Following decades of neglecting the environmental balance, the land is crumbling in several other parts of Uttarakhand like Uttarkashi and Karnaprayag and in Himachal Pradesh. The spectre of a Joshimath-like disaster also looms large over the congested hill towns of Shimla and Darjeeling in West Bengal, which are popular tourist destinations. There is an urgent need for long-term national and state-level plans for disaster prevention in the Himalayas, prioritizing it over disaster management and mitigation.

Unregulated construction, be it in the name of development or boosting tourism – has taken its toll on ecologically fragile regions. The Arunachal Pradesh is no exception. The rampant destruction of forests continues to be a big threat to the state.  Experts believe that unplanned construction, overpopulation, hydropower projects and obstruction of the natural flow of water may have led to the present disaster in Joshimath. The highway and power projects are being planned big way in Arunachal. These developmental projects are much needed but there has to be balance between development and nature.  What is happening in Joshimath is a massive eye opener for the entire Himalayan region. The government both at the centre and state level should learn a lesson from it.