Blueprint for Survival of Divine Himalaya
-Sunder Lal Bahuguna
Our Policy Declaration
Aggressive development policy has created the crisis of survival for both the Nature and the Man-in Himalaya. It has not only adversely affected the people of this area, but ten times more people have been affected on account of disaster in Himalaya in the shape of floods, soil-erosion and drought.
This great mountain touches the boundaries of many countries and controls the climate of a large region. Besides material prosperity, Himalaya is the symbol of cultural inspiration and emotional integration. For humankind as a whole also Himalaya has been the source of spiritual inspiration and peace. It has today become the centre of ecological crisis, human misery and due to it, of discontent and chaos. This has now become an issue of global concern. Policies based upon the material civilization, instead of healing up the seriously wounded Himalaya, have accelerated the pace of exploitation of its water, forest and mineral resources. Construction of the present Tehri Dam IS the symbol of this. This is economically bankrupt, socially disruptive, killer of culture and ecologically disastrous. So, to protect the economic, social, cultural and ecological values, we will leave no stone unturned to stop it forthwith.
We are disturbed with a number of such dams, which are proposed to be constructed in Himalayas Some of these projects are at the investigation stage. The objective of all such projects. is to supply power and water to big industries and cities (though for a very short period) by destroying the ecology of Himalaya and uprooting its inhabitants. The indiscriminate export of water, a basic resource for survival from this poor region, is a grave injustice, which will increase the regional imbalance. This is legalised robbery, to stop which is the primary duty of every citizen.
We in Himalaya are facing the Crisis of Survival due to suicidal activities being carried out in the name of development. These are commercial exploitation of the forests, mining, haphazard construction of dams, which inundate vast areas and displace a large number of people, mechanical heavy explosions creating artificial tremors, construction of Five Star for luxury tourism and multi-storeyed buildings not in tune with Himalayan landscape. We call upon the people of Himalaya, lovers of Himalaya, and those who believe in the Dignity of Human Life to come forward to oppose these activities for their survival. The Uttarkashi Earthquake was a warning to stop tampering with Himalaya, to which deaf ears were turned.
There is need for a new and long-term policy for the protection of dying Himalaya. Following steps need to be taken forthwith to heal up its wounds and promote sustainable development of the people.
1. Power generation from each and every stream, rivulet and river without flooding the cultivated land. forests and habitats, so that power may be easily available for lifting up the water and for ropeways without reliance on Central grid. At least 12 per cent of power generated from big projects (which the States take from the centre) should be given free of Cost to village councils (Gram Sabhas), block committees and District Boards in the Catchment area, so that it may add to their meager income. For example, in this respect Uttarkashi district has the first right to get a share from Maneri Bhali Hyde] Project, (Stage 1.)
2. Land use survey of all unirrigated hill slopes including reserved forest and civil forest land be done. Water should be provided to grow fruits, fodder and fibber trees on this land. Till these trees give returns, people should be provided employment to plant and took after these trees. These trees will be the private property of the people and by giving them permanent employment we will strengthen the Himalayan economy. The plains will also get fertile soil from the hills. The flow of the rivers will be regularised and the water problem will be permanently solved.
3. Local people should be given liberal aid to construct houses of local type for the convenience of pilgrims, nature-lovers and those in search of peace. Conservation of beauty-spots and maintenance roads to these spots should be done.
4. Reclamation of slopes and land damaged by mining, road-construction and debris of Tehri dam.
We declare a Himalayan Policy in which the inspiring aspect of Himalaya is maintained. The wounds of this great mountain system be healed up, there should be economic development of the people and the natural resources of Himalaya should be utilized in a way in which future generations are also benefited in a sustained manner without any harm to its fragile ecosystem.
I . Himalaya should remain a living space for its permanent residents, spiritual seekers, pilgrims and tourists visiting for peace and enjoying scenic beauty.
2. Resources should be used for regional economic self-sufficiency. Ban on indiscriminate exploitation and export of resources (e.g. mining, deforestation, and construction of big dams etc).
3 . To maintain the local landscape for a number of economic activities, specially for tourism connected with scenic beauty.
4. Some of the flora and fauna species of the Himalayan region have become scarce; to preserve the bio-diversity of these.
5. More autonomy for the development of local institutions, which is essential for the protection, utilization, carrying capacity, sustainability and cultural development.
Real Development of Himalaya should be the Global Concern. Its main objective should be to revive the ancient glory of Himalaya, where people come in search of peace. The modem society needs more Places of Peace, because with the advancement of modern technology and industry – dust, air and water – pollution and noise have become so common. Pure and living water has become scarce. Himalayan rivers provide it to millions of people from all races, countries & continents. These rivers should flow forever without any obstruction and they should be kept free from pollution. Similarly our natural vegetation should be revived. There used to be a dense tree cover in Himalaya. About enhancing its scenic beauty, check the recession of glaciers; check landslides and soil erosion, regularise the flow of the rivers and strengthen the local as well as the national economies.
The direction of international efforts should be to strengthen the local initiatives towards a new order in this region and bring together the humanitarian scientists, social activists and compassionate literary men, artists and journalists on a common platform, so that a broader Himalayan policy may be evolved and respective Governments and United Nations’ agencies should be persuaded to implement this Global Himalayan Blueprint.