Drawing the line
The crisis in Joshimath, Uttarakhand has highlighted land subsidence, lack of transparency, and the need for sustainable development.
Lack of Information Transparency
- Calamitous Start to the Year: The year began with reports of the temple town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand sinking and showing cracks in buildings.
- People fled and took refuge in tents due to fears of their homes collapsing, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.
- Factors Behind Land Subsidence: The land subsidence issue was attributed to tunnelling activities from the Tapovan Vishnugad power project by the National Thermal Power Corporation.
- Secrecy Surrounding Information: Satellite imagery was considered a factor in causing panic, and information was to be shared only after clearance from the Central government.
Infrastructure Risks in Uttarakhand
- Non-Compliance with Building Codes: The region's fragile geology makes infrastructure projects, resembling cities, inherently risky.
- Need for Monitoring: Comprehensive town planning and construction measures are essential to minimize the risk of accidents and loss of life.
- Sustainable Development and Public Awareness: Governments must prioritize sustainable decisions over short-term electoral gains. Disseminating risk information widely and incorporating it into public consciousness is crucial.
Role of Scientific Counsel
- Independent Scientific Counsel: Independent scientific advice should play a central role in policymaking, especially in geologically fragile regions.
- Setting Development Limits: Clear boundaries should be established concerning the extent of development permissible in the region.
- Creating Balance: Balancing citizens' needs with responsible land use and infrastructure development is essential.