India: Uttarakhand may be staring at another disaster

Source(s)
Down To Earth

To cater to the booming tourism economy, the government is giving way to unregulated infrastructure construction, environmental degradation and have no policy for proper land use 

By Neha Yadav

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In June 2013, Kedarnath valley witnessed the most disastrous floods in the history of India. It caused massive loss of lives, habitat and livelihood and severe destruction to infrastructure and communication.

The tourism and hospitality sector, which adds close to 30-35 per cent of Uttarakhand's GDP, plummeted. For a state economy that is majorly dependent on subsistence agriculture and small and marginal service sector under tourism, the disaster had a significant adverse impact on crop production and other livelihood opportunities. Food crises occurred as a consequence of the breakdown of the transportation and marketing systems.

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The State is predisposed to earthquakes, landslides, flash-floods, cloudbursts, avalanches, as well as droughts. According to the state records, there have been 20 landslides in the State over the 11 years from 2001 to 2012, and seven incidents of cloudbursts between 2002 and 2010.

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A number of development factors have additionally exacerbated disaster risk and vulnerability in the region, the report on the Uttarakhand Disaster in 2013 released by the Ministry of Home Affairs highlights factors such as deforestation, building of roads and tunnels through mountains, construction of hydropower facilities, tourism-related construction in floodplains and hillslopes, as well as sand mining on river beds.

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