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6th September 2023 (10 Topics)

Time to decide

Context:

Recent floods in northern India raised alarms. This is an indication that Infrastructure development and needs in the hills cannot be the same as in the plains.

Concerns over Himalayan Region

  • Flood Devastation: The Chief Justice suggested a study on the Himalayan region's carrying capacity amid the recent floods.
  • Challenging Balance: Balancing rising population, infrastructure needs, and fragile geography in hill-stations and Himalayan States is complex.
  • Past Challenges: Previous efforts to assess environmental impacts, like after the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, faced stakeholder resistance and limited impact.

Sustainable Development Challenges

  • Long-Standing Proposal: Since 2020, guidelines on carrying capacity assessment were circulated to Himalayan States, but progress has been slow.
  • Conflict between Development and Ecology: Recent incidents like land subsidence in Joshimath and unexpected floods in Himachal Pradesh highlight the conflict.
  • Need for Sustainable Practices: Himalayan infrastructure must prioritize sustainability or designate no-go zones. Avoiding this issue is no longer an option.

Way forward

  • Scientific Engagement: Collaborate with scientists, local communities, and policymakers to assess carrying capacity and plan sustainable development practices.
  • Stringent Regulations: Enforce strict regulations on infrastructure projects in ecologically sensitive Himalayan areas, prioritizing safety and sustainability.
  • Public Awareness: Raise awareness about the environmental risks and consequences of unchecked development, encouraging responsible decision-making and policy changes.
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