Millennium Post

Lessons unlearnt

Barely a year after the catastrophic Uttarakhand landslides that killed over 5,000 people and took away livelihood and belongings of tens of thousands more, we have a similar tragedy befalling a Pune village. Malin mudslide has already killed over 60 men and women, and has hundreds more buried under the heap of slush, soil and other debris.

Though sudden cloudburst is once again the immediate trigger, the questions that need to be asked include those casting doubts on the sturdiness of the land upon which the now destroyed thatch houses once stood. The hills in Malin village have been softened because of years of deforestation, which has eroded the top soil and made the region extremely prone to mud crashes. Despite being situated in an ecologically sensitive zone facing heavy and frequent rains, rampant cutting of trees and clearing of forest to set up conurbations, mining zones and other unchecked construction have seriously threatened the ecological health of the region.

It is evident that the scam-infested Maharashtra government has paid little heed to the warnings coming their way from environmentalists and ecological warriors, who had repeatedly tried to drive home the point, without much success. More worrisomely, the reckless projects have not just been private enterprises carried out to simply mint money; as reports suggest they were mostly precipitated by a myopic government clueless about the possible consequences of environmentally unsound construction projects.

No adequate measure to ensure drainage of excess rainwater, no initiative to replenish the lost top soil by planting trees , no heed to maintain a balance of green and carbon-heavy energy resources – these were but some of the wrongs committed by the authorities who gave their nods to the thoughtless projects without sufficient regulation or monitoring by government or allied agencies. If Uttarakhand was brought to its knees by an excess of religious tourism industry that had spawned illegal constructions, the Pune story was a repetition of the same old and costly mistake.   
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