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‘Save river embankments from becoming dumping yards’

‘The young Himalayan mountain has suffered all kinds of onslaughts in the name of development. Every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction. Consequently, the frequency of natural disasters in the higher hills has increased manifold due to exploitation of natural resources and unplanned construction on the banks of holy rivers. From 1978 onwards, natural calamities in the form of earthquakes, landslides and flash floods have resulted in the loss of 1,060 invaluable human lives in the Uttarakashi district alone.  So, one can imagine the magnitude of the problem in our state’, said Suresh Bhai, an volunteer of Nadi Bachao Andolan.

The Nadi Bachao Andolan volunteer, who fought many battles and raised his voice for the preservation and conservation of nature in the hill state, said, ‘Currently 558 hydro-power projects are operating or in the pipeline in the state. The total length of tunnels constructed below the hydro-power projects equals to 1,050 km. Nearly 5,000 villages comprising of 20-22 lakhs of population are living above these tunnels, which is just half a kilometre of distance. So, one can imagine how vulnerable they are to natural calamity which can strike at any time and at any place, and no scientific machine can predict it.’

‘Since the creation of Uttarakhand, we do not have Panchayati Raj Act of our own, and we are working on the pattern of former UP government. The life of farmer is tough, due to slopping land. The Garhwal farming pattern is different as we have zigzag lands, where irrigation is not easy. While making roads, the PWD dumped heaps of soils on the banks of Alaknanda river’, he added.

While describing the measure to prevent soil erosion in the state, he said, ‘Government should take steps to save river embankments from becoming dumping yards. The fragile local ecology and ecosystem can’t bear more exploitation by greedy contractors and short-sighted government policies.’

He lamented that in many villages, there is acute shortage of drinking water, albeit river is over-flowing with mud water. Proper utilization of resources is the need of the hour. In the recent floods, there was water, water, water everywhere water, but not a drop of water to drink.
Sandeep Bankhwal

Sandeep Bankhwal

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