Statement by Matu Jansangthan on the Himalaya day:
On the Himalaya Diwas on 9th September, the Government of Uttarakhand prepared a lot to celebrate the occasion. This time even the Government of India has made preparations for the day. However, a mere celebration of the Himalaya Day will not save the Himalayas; rather it would be more important to understand the grief of the Himalayas. What are the concerns for the Himalayas today? Let us understand that. Today Himalaya is threatened by so-called-development activities. These have pierced the Himalayas. Thousands and millions of acres of forests have been destroyed in the name of these development works, which include building roads, constructing dams and in other works. And the remaining forests are being destroyed by the grace of the Forest Department.
The basic elements of the Himalayas are the snow, rivers, and forests, with the green cover beneath the Himalayas, and the white snow cover at the very top. Their protectors are the inhabitants. The snow cover protects the entire health of the Himalayas. As the government has expedited development plans in the Himalayas, the glaciers have started melting in the region and the forests have also been recklessly cut down. The formation of dams has caused clouds to burst. Cloud burst incidents have increased rapidly after the construction of the Tehri Dam.
Landslides have increased due to the formation of large widened roads. Wherever the roads are widened, more explosives are used, due to which landslide begins soon after the construction of roads. Himalaya is becoming vulnerable due to the excessive use of explosives. Wherever large and widened roads are there, coupled with colossal projects of so-called development, especially big dams, these have caused havoc to the Himalayas. Why does the government not understand it?
Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Rawat had asked people of the state on 15 August to take a resolution to plant at least one tree. On the other side, thousands of millions of hectares of forest are submerged directly.
The rights of the Himalayas have been totally denied in the way that the public hearings of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Dam have taken place recently in the month of August. On one hand, governments are bringing the dam in the name of development, but at the same time they talk about protection of the Himalayas. Then, they talk about planting trees at a time when thousands of hectares of forests are being submerged. So, it seems there is a difference between their words and action.
Rivers are daughters of the Himalayas. We would like to remind the governments that there is hardly river, on which dam is constructed, but has not seen outbreak during June 2013. The rivers, especially the Ganges, broke the dams and wherever the dams hindered the flow of the river. It was more of destruction all around. We have always kept the matter in front of governments, but regretfully the government, which believes that Ganges as mother, has remained totally silent in the matter. In fact, it is working against system.
The way mining is being extended into the rivers and the way the mining was done in the name of employment, they are all absolutely wrong. Mining is not employment. Yes, few contractors do get benefited. We have told the government that, in the Tehri Dam and other dams, a lot of debris and sand is lying, just as in the reservoir of Vishnuprayag dam. If this sand is released, then the reservoir of Tehri Dam will create more storage.
On this auspicious occasion of Himalaya Day, we demanded that the Central and the State governments to first understand the grief of the Himalayas and change the policies of development. Of course, a little bit of electricity will be generated from big dams, but devastation will be more than that.