Saturday, July 6, 2013

Editorial "ECODAMAGE AGGRAVATES CALAMITIES" in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 30 June 2013 issue, Vol. 9, Part 1, No. 12


The pictures above show the havoc wrought by recent Uttarakhand floods, and the innovative efficiency and dedicated service of the relief workers, especially the Army soldiers in India or China in such situations. But the point remains whether this calamity that has gulped thousands of lives and destroyed crores of properties was entirely natural, whether it was wholly unforeseen or was reasonably predictable. In June 2008 when Professor G.D. Agarwal embarked on a fast unto death in protest against building big dams in the Himalayan region, we had editorially warned that Damming the Ganges could be quite dangerous to the fragile ecosystems of the region with calamitous consequences for the people and that this relatively recent geographical formation in creational timescale could not possibly endure such human tampering. Several environmentalists/social activists have been vehemently protesting and agitating against such ‘rape of nature’ in the sensitive mountainous and riverbed regions, and 2 years ago Swami Nigamanand sacrificed his life in an indefinite fast to protest the rampant stone crushing and strip mining in the region. But, the grisly greed for profits exacerbated by the capitalist globalization processes has overridden all such protests and agitations to continue indulging in catastrophic constructions/destructions in the region thereby upsetting all the natural defences to any such unforeseen ravages of nature. We agree with Mr. K.V. Raman [DNA News Agency] that “the catastrophe that struck … is an instance of what occurs if nature is exploited beyond what it can endure. The monsoon arrived early and came down heavily. But the destruction was the outcome of the damage done by man. Illegal constructions on the banks of the rivers and on mountain slopes have proliferated, … within a fragile eco-zone. In spite of repeated warnings, real estate activity and tourism has been allowed without restraint.  Over the past few years, numerous dams and hydroelectric projects have been constructed that have also put additional pressure on the natural system. …the Alaknanda and Mandakini carried whatever was in their path; houses and hotels, roads and bridges … were washed away within minutes. This is a grim lesson from which we must learn to curb the activities that interfere with the environment. The lesson to be learnt is clear and critical: “Live harmoniously with Nature or Die in disasters and disgrace!§§§

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