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Updated: July 11, 2013 11:35 IST

Uttarakhand disaster caused due to unplanned development: Medha

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A file picture of Social activist Medha Patkar.
The Hindu
A file picture of Social activist Medha Patkar.

Terming the recent calamity in Uttarakhand as a man-made disaster, activist Medha Patkar has said it is time to rethink the concept of development.

“This disaster has been caused by unplanned development. It is the result of mindless misuse of the state’s natural resources. The dams, barrages and tunnels built in the name of hydel projects have impacted the course of the rivers which led to the tragedy,” Ms. Patkar told reporters on her return from flood-hit areas of Kedarghati on Wednesday.

She said the authorities need to learn lessons from this colossal calamity and revise their concept of development in the hills.

She also demanded that the valley where the Ganga, Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers flow should be declared an eco-sensitive zone.

Ms. Patkar also asked the Centre to prepare a policy to give economic security to people whose livelihood was linked to tourism and the chardham yatra.

I think Medha Ji is loosing an opportunity to take a more nuanced
stance. The disaster was caused by unprecedented rainfall in two days.
Kedarnath was destroyed by a lake burst. Both these can be attributed
to global warming which points to coal-burning thermal power (and not
hydel power) being the culprit.

Secondly, the disaster was caused by rise in water levels in the rivers
and landslides. As seen above, the hydel projects had nothing to do
with the former. It is possible that hydel projects increased the
instance of landslides (due to deforestation and tunneling). This has
to be analyzed and improvements made to the way hydel projects are
executed. Killing hydel projects is not a solution for a state like
Uttarakhand which, due to its mountainous terrain, cannot rely on
agriculture on industry for revenue.

Thirdly, most construction on river banks is driven by tourism. If you
kill then tourism too (in addition to hydel projects), you pretty much
kill Uttarakhand itself.

from:  Kishore Kumar
Posted on: Jul 12, 2013 at 12:47 IST

In the era of planned economy this disaster is an example of man made
disaster caused by unplanned development. Though we always take a vow to
sustainable development but in execution we are far behind to other
countries. Sustainable development is the only way that can save us from
these mega disaster.Human being must be center of development and not
handful of corporate.

from:  Osama Hasan
Posted on: Jul 11, 2013 at 20:13 IST

Medha Patkar is one of the lone voices speaking out against the wanton
destruction of habitat in India. Whether it is mass deforestation,
building tunnels or polluting the earth, we have laws against it, but
little enforcement. Big corporate money, greed, the lust for power and a
well designed system of corruption have caused man made tragedies like
the one in Uttarakhand. Then there is the question of how to balance
development with such issues like displacement of villages when
humongous projects are executed - governments have shown scant respect
for human existence, rights or dignity,

People like Medha Patkar are easily painted as "radical", which is a
dangerous label, and most people are reluctant to join her movement to
bring about positive change. So we have both the government(s) and the
general public to blame if we have more of tragedies like the one in

We never learn from our past, be it a simple stampede, or a massive
tragedy - that is why it repeats.

from:  Thomas Johnston
Posted on: Jul 11, 2013 at 19:12 IST
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