|Sunderlal Bahuguna, environmentalist & Chipko movement leader|
We have to pay the price for tampering with the nature. The immediate cause of devastation is uncontrolled constructions in the hill region. In defiance of all rules, builders have constructed multistory apartments and buildings in the hills, a major cause of landslide. In a situation like cloud bursts the earth in the hills get pregnable and brittle that weakens the foundation of the buildings, hence the collapse.
Rapid commercialization of land in the hills is a serious threat to the people living there. Look what is happening in hill stations. Chain of luxury hotels have come up in Shimla, Manali, Kullu, Mussorie, Nainital and Dharmshala which also boasts of a cricket stadium. Rich and affluent sections of the people have their own luxury resorts now in the hills. Rishikesh has witnessed heavy constructions in the recent past where commercial high rise buildings dot the landscape. This is high time state governments put immediate curb on constructions in the hills.
One area of concern is taming of the rivers. Reckless constructions of reservoirs and dams in the hills are fraught with danger. It was not for nothing that Sunderlal Bahugana had raised his voice of concern over construction of Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand. Bahuguna was later joined by other social activists like Medha Patkar in protesting against construction of reservoirs not only in Uttarakhand but in other parts of the country as well.
It was Sundrlal Bahuguna who started ‘chipko’ movement in 1970s to save trees in the Himalayas. He carried forward his movement in later years to protect environment in the hills. His movement had impact on the government. P V narsmiha Rao when he was Prime Minister appointed a committee to review the height of the Tehri Dam. He went on hunger strike in 1996 at Rajghat in Delhi for the longest period of 74 days. H D Deve Gowda then Prime Minister gave assurance to review the project. After the death of Bahuguna, the movement against tampering with the nature lost steam. As we can see today, there is no attempt to check the haphazard growth of buildings and houses in the hills. In the name of tapping resource of hydro power, private players have entered the field throwing all checks and balances to the winds.
Rudra in Sanskrit means anger. A tall statue of Lord Shiva stands unmoved in the midst of furious river in Rudraprayag. The God who is the creator of the Universe will punish the mankind for tampering with the cycle of nature and for destroying environment. It is better we control our greed and stop abusing the land, the river and the forests for monetary gains and comforts.
~R. K. Sinha