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Muck being thrown in Uttarakhand rivers: Villagers face 'existential' crisis

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

The Uttarakhand government must act fast to clear the path of Dhauli Ganga river about two kilometres ahead of village Neeti and about one kilometre from Ghamsali village, which is about 90 kilometer from Joshi Math town in district Chamoli. The creation of an artificial lake due to throwing of muck and mud can create a catastrophic situation like what happened on February 7, 2021-- the Rishi Ganga-Dhauli Ganga tragedy at Tapovan and Raini village in which over 200 people lost their life.
I visited the area on December 1 and 2. I saw pain and agony of villagers in Raini where Gaura Devi fought valiantly against the timber mafia and gave birth go the Chipko Movement and brought respect to Uttarakhand and its social movements. Today, Raini villagers are facing existential crisis and the government has no sense of respect to protect and restore a village which became identity of Uttarakhand.
Raini's crisis is actually the result of the developmental model being pursued by those who think that the Pahadis know little about their needs. It’s an imposed model with little respect for cultural sensitivities of the Uttarakhand people and that of the environment.
The continuous throwing of muck as well as big boulders, concrete etc. in these beautiful rivers is not only a threat to the area but can also bring a bigger disaster in the region, as it happened in early February this year.
The government must not wait for disasters to happen and ensure that the big corporate lobby that wants to gain by exploiting the vast resources of Uttarakhand for their commercial gains must follow the existing Supreme Court guidelines and respect to the beautiful landscape of Uttarakhand.
A visit to Bhagirathi valley, Alaknanda valley and Dhauli Ganga valley will pain anyone caring for the environment and identity of Uttarakhand. Without rivers and mountains there cannot be an Uttarakhand. If the state cares for environment in real sense, it needs to properly monitor developmental project, and penalise those violating environmental norms and guidelines.
The way our beautiful landscape has been maltreated is simply devastating. The Chardham national highway is still incomplete and roads at many places is absolutely dangerous. The government should update about the status of these roads so that people know in advance and take a proper decision.
---
*Human rights defender

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