The Unlearnt Six

first_imgThe recent catastrophe in Uttarakhand jolted us all. As the initial news of the disaster came, almost everyone felt a repeat of the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy. A cloud burst was the ignition point for the Kedarnath tragedy while the latest one was caused by a glacier burst. The havoc caused by the last week’s incident cannot be compared to 2013 one but still, it’s massive. The official death count is around 60 while three times more are on the missing list.Most of us would dismiss it as an act of God or nature’s fury. The environmentalists have I-warned-you-earlier sneer. Geologists had predicted this kind of calamity if we continued to plunder the fragile mountains. A few months back I had written on ‘The Forgotten Art of Listening’ in which I bemoaned the lack of attentiveness amongst us while listening. But I am afraid the governments are no better. They have mastered the art of ignoring. No lessons seemed to have learnt from the very recent catastrophes. The mountains are blasted with impunity for power projects, roads and tunnels with no method to dispose of the muck thus produced which is carelessly dumped there in the gorges.The muck often stops the natural flow of water especially during rains, forming temporary lakes and when the volume of the water becomes too much for the muck to hold and it leads to floods. The usual floods have water and some mud but we all noticed a thick muddy flow of water in both Uttarakhand disasters. In water, one can hope to survive but there’s little hope of surviving such mud. Even the strongest swimmers can’t hope to stay afloat in the more-muck-less-water. If inhaled, it immediately stops the flow of air into the lungs causing death.Instead of learning from the 2013 tragedy, the governments seem to have given a blind eye. No lessons seem to have been learnt from it. I have not travelled much in the Uttarakhand mountains but whenever I saw the area on television on Travel or adventure channels or vlogs, I admired the natural beauty but always wondered at the absence of trees which are in abundance in Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya – almost similar states. If you watch Vijay Anand’s, Shammi Kapoor – Asha Parekh 1966 musical blockbuster Teesri Manzil which was extensively shot in and around Mussoorie, you cannot miss bare mountain slopes. The trees, forests, vegetation was pretty less even 55 years ago and obviously, it had been depleted further since then. Many a story of Ruskin Bond poignantly depicts the disastrous impact of deforestation, mining, blasting on human life, flora and fauna. Having lived almost his entire life in Mussoorie Hills or in Shimla, Bond’s association with and understanding of the mountains is very intimate. His stories or essays often suggest stopping this reckless rape of the mountains. We, as tourists, are also guilty of disturbing further the fragile ecology of the hills. Though the harm caused by the tourists is not as savage as caused by blasting, tunnels and cutting the mountains.Come summer and most of us pick or rent a car, rush to mountains, stay there for a couple of days, return home leaving a trail of water bottles, chips packets, disposable crockery and a lot of carbon dioxide fumes choking and suffocating the beautiful mountains.Life on this earth, they say, ended much time by natural disasters. So it’s not surprising that the present life would end too but why are we hastening this imminent doomsday? No doubt, the governments are devoid of vision, myopic and insensitive but we can contribute our bit by being more aware and making others aware. We need to question our governments about such huge projects in the mountains. We need to spread awareness about such things. The impending doomsday cannot be avoided but it can be delayed. A few more generations may be allowed to enjoy a civilization built painstakingly by an effort of thousands of years. If something is not done to stop this rot, the Chamoli disasters would periodically rock the region and cause greater ruins.PS: My last two Wednesdays went without my weekly blog. My very pressing family and professional engagements kept me away from my weekly ramblings. However, last week’s miss was due to plain lethargy. I must apologise to my small but very loyal readers. I would try to write every week in spite of insipid ideas and boring writing.last_img read more