Arjun Kumar, Sunidhi Agarwal, Nishi Verma
Hemant Dhyani, Convenor, Ganga Ahwan Movement; Member, High powered Committee of Supreme Court on Chardham project, made some crucial recommendations in the panel discussion on, ‘Uttarakhand Flood Disaster 2.0: From Analysis to Action, organized by IMPRI Impact Policy And Research Institute, New Delhi, India Water Portal, Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar.
He provided a two-step solution to mitigate disasters like the Uttarakhand Flood – firstly, he suggested installing Early Warning Systems in Himalayas and secondly, suggested regulating human intervention and reduce the building of power plants.
Mr Dhyani emphasized on human activities being the primary reason for a disaster of this scale. He expressed his disappointment on how no practical lessons were learnt from the 2013 deluge. He also highlighted the need for accountability for “criminal negligence”.
He spoke about the time he was a part of the Supreme Court Expert body in 2014 and had warned the State about the gravity of the situation. When the second disaster took place, the Supreme Court was thanked for the stay order of 24 projects that were to be implemented at the time because had they not put a stop to some of the projects, the flood would have had much worse repercussions.
Mr Dhyani also spoke of the apathy and the trauma that the workers faced due to the mismanagement of the disaster. He raised the question on why the government did not use warning systems for workers to save their lives.
A sustainable approach for Himalayas is necessary to avoid such disasters in the future. Thus, he urged the government to let go of the unrequired shift from Dham to Dam. He also recommended that the whole catchment area where the Ganga meets its tributaries be declared as eco-sensitive zones and, that strong regulations are implemented against the growing township and urbanization that has led to deforestation, soil degradation and loss of water quality. The increase in concretization and tourism has led to negative effects, which in turn has had grave implications on climate change.
In his closing statement, Mr Dhyani cited the fact that the deposition of Black carbon on the glaciers has led to tremendous climate change and an increase in disasters. It is important to understand that no action is isolated, and all activities are interconnected and thus have dire consequences. The Himalayas invaluable ecosystem is already adding a lot of value, but humans are still causing more and more destructions.
Thus, Mr Hemant Dhyani requests the government to adopt a strategy called Strategic Environmental Analysis (SEA) for the Himalayas and re-define the meaning of development for the sake of the environment.
YouTube Video for Uttarakhand Flood Disaster 2.0: From Analysis to Action
Picture Courtesy: ETEnergy World