Learn from Uttarakhand to avoid disasters

Last month, around a 100-metre stretch of the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway, a part of the controversial Rs 12,000 crore projects in the hill state that aroused the ire of environmentalists and local residents, collapsed, raising a serious question mark over the feasibility of such highway projects in the hilly area. This project is part of Char Dham all-weather highway in Uttarakhand. Ever since this highway project started, environmentalists alleged that frequent landslides and cave-ins have taken place along this road.

The problem of subsidence in the area was known at least four years ago, and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited even sought to contain the damage. But the torrential showers that have pounded the hill state this monsoon appear to have caused water to leach into the soil, loosening the foundation of the roads and making them prone to subsidence. Triggered by the climate crisis, extreme weather events are only going to rise. In a region where the Himalayas are still active, this likely means more unpredictable events for the authorities to battle. What is happening in Uttarakhand has lessons for Arunachal Pradesh. Here in the state also, large-scale construction of roads is taking place. The authorities need to learn from Uttarakhand and ensure that such disasters do not hit the state. The topography and geography of the two states are similar.