Declare Himalayas eco sensitive zone, regulate big projects: SJM
Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), said that several “overambitious” projects under execution in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand are causing irreversible damage to the State and its people and hence must be stopped. In a resolution, passed during the round table conference organised by the organisation, the participants maintained that the government must declare the entire Himalayas as “eco-sensitive zone” and ensure there is no further damage to the environment.
The round table, headed by SJM, was also attended by Ravi Chopra, a veteran environmentalist and director of People’s Science Institute, and social expert Hemant Dhyani among others who spoke at length about the devastation happening at Joshimath and the reasons behind it.
While demanding to declare Himalayas as eco-sensitive zone, the participants of the conference maintained that various rivers originate from the glaciers in Himalayas. In the past, there had been “opposition to the obstruction of continuous flow of the Ganga, one of the several Himalyan rivers, by tampering with nature in the name of building dams across the river”, they said.
“After protests and agitations and fast unto death by many people including Prof. G.D. Agrawal, the Central government declared the area of Bhagirathi as eco-sensitive zone. Declaring the stretch from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi, covering an area of 4,179.59 sq.km., as eco-sensitive zone resulted in no event of natural calamity occurring in the area. This is why the government must consider declaring Yamunotri, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Kali and Dhauli - all Ganges tributaries - as ‘eco-sensitive zones’ to prevent future disasters in Uttarakhand,” said Mr. Dhyani.
SJM said the Ganges basin is the collective property of the entire country and the cultural sanctity of the Himalayas is unimpeachable and must not be compromised at any cost. It is therefore important that these “ecologically and culturally sensitive zones should be taken care of, conserved and protected as an inter-generational equity”.
“The present governments, both at Centre and the State, will have to demonstrate utmost sensitivity towards nature, otherwise the future generations will never forgive them,” SJM further said.
Speaking about the measures that should be taken immediately, the participants of the conference said that the Char Dham road widening project must be regulated and the width of the road should change to “intermediate standard” to minimise damage to the terrain.
“Char Dham rail is an overambitious project that will cause much devastation in the Himalayas and will further overburden the tourist-centric State of Uttarakhand. This project should be reassessed and re-looked,” demanded the SJM.
The organisation also added that a detailed carrying capacity assessment of the State of Uttarakhand should be done to ensure the number of tourists to these places is accounted for and the activities don’t cause environmental overburdening.