The number of tourists visiting Uttarakhand is much more than the population of the State. The land mafia woos villagers to grab land for the construction of hotels. Rules are subverted to flout compliance. Cement construction with pillars and digging close to hills and rivers pose perils at the construction stage itself. There is no professionally planned development in our hills. Even hill stations in Kerala and Tamil Nadu witness landslips during heavy rains. Mass felling of trees, diversion of water channels through brittle soil in slops of mountains and illegal mining disturb the ecological equilibrium to a great extent.
Madan Menon Thottasseri,
Thousands have been devastated by the flash floods and rains in Uttarakhand. Many structures have been swept away. Though official figures of people who died in the tragedy has been put around 600, the actual number may be much higher. While the government has no doubt mounted a massive rescue programme, employing helicopters and ferrying thousands to safety, thousands are still stranded. It is easy to pass the buck to nature but it is clear that greed, corruption and politician-bureaucrat-builders nexus have contributed to the tragedy in no small measure.
The tragedy saw the best and worst of human attitude. If rescue teams did a wonderful job at grave personal risk, greedy elements fleeced the stranded pilgrims in ways that can only be called cruel.
H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana,
The catastrophe shows how unplanned development creates unprecedented havoc. Blasting hills to accommodate hydel projects, unscientific methods of building roads and illegal construction contributed to the enormity of the tragedy. Increasing human interference in pristine areas should be restricted. Surely prevention is better than cure.
Preet Simar Johal,
The floods in Uttarakhand have left several thousands traumatised. Instead of politicising the calamity, the Centre and the State government should work together to set up rehabilitation and counselling centres, and assist in bringing normalcy back to the lives of the affected.
Whenever nature’s fury strikes, our armed forces organise fast and effective rescue and relief operations. There will be many untold stories of valour and bravery of helicopter pilots, who flew people to safety without a wink of sleep for days. We must inculcate suitable training in our colleges and district centres so that such disasters can be managed with least assistance from our soldiers.
Lt. Col. R.V.S. Mani (retd.),
The army has done a marvellous job by evacuating thousands stranded in rain-hit Uttarakhand. The armymen are working on a war footing to evacuate pilgrims stranded in high altitude areas amid a warning of more rains. Rebuilding of the affected areas and the Kedarnath shrine is important but priority should be given to families that have lost breadwinners.
The Himalayan tsunami has exposed the bankruptcy of our development and disaster management policies. It is time to commit ourselves to a sustainable, eco-friendly and integrated developmental model.
Hazards are inevitable. But human activities like deforestation and mindless construction retrograde the soil stability, which converts hazards into catastrophes.