Environmentalists renewed their campaign against big dams on Monday and called for formulating a new sustainable developmental model for the entire Himalayan region in the wake of the June disaster in Uttarakhand that left hundreds of people dead and devastated scores of hydel projects. “The past decades have witnessed series of unplanned and unscrupulous development in the fragile Himalayan region. Huge dams, road networks and poor construction approaches made the system more vulnerable,” said environmentalists in an appeal to mark the “Himalaya Divas.” “The big question still remains whether we have understood this great disaster or we are trying to shy away from the harsh reality.
The disaster was an indicator that we must have a new sustainable developmental model for the entire Himalayan region,” the environmentalists said. Leading the campaign, Anil P Joshi, founder of the Dehradun based non-governmental organisation HESCO, called for a separate ministry at the Centre on the Himalayan region. “We must have a separate ministry at the Centre, which would decide the new model for development in the Himalayan region. The natural disasters that struck in June may recur and we should be prepared to meet any such calamity by charting a new road map,” said Joshi. Chipko movement leader Sunderlal Bahuguna also sought a blanket ban on the construction of huge dams and said that the country must stand united on the issues pertaining to the Himalayas. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, a pro-dam leader, did not attend the function as he was away in New Delhi. The June 16-17 deluge not only killed hundreds of people and rendered thousands homeless in the state, but also devastated scores of hydel projects in the Garhwal region. “It is high time to decide developmental model of Himalayas. Should we continue with the one followed in the past or take (a) u-turn or some mid path be followed,” said the environmentalists in their appeal.