Crumbling mountains, sinking cities, creaking roads and drying up rivers in Uttarakhand indicate that the Himalayas are being abused. Experts claim that the unabated construction work in Uttarakhand and increasing tourist pressure day by day is ruining the fragile Himalayan ecosystem.
According to experts, the coming disasters are the result of this pressure and arbitrariness. The people whose houses were hit by landslides in Joshimath, the gateway to Badrinath, one of the Char Dham destinations, are still in awe and cannot muster up the courage to return to those houses.
Environmentalists say road expansion projects have emerged as the biggest threat to the stability of the Himalayas, which is already unstable due to climatic and natural reasons in Uttarakhand. The road project connecting Char Dham-Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri has been cited in a 2019 report as a plan to attack the Himalayas by a committee headed by veteran environmentalist Ravi Chopra.
Road width increased against recommendation
The commission had recommended keeping the width of the road at 5.5 meters at the Char Dham project, but in December 2021, the width of the road was allowed to be 10 meters by order of the Supreme Court. Anjal Prakash, research director and associate professor at Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business, said that along the 247 km road between Rishikesh and Joshimath, the road had been closed 309 times due to landslides.
If you divide this by the number of kilometers per kilometer, there have been an average of 1.25 landslides per kilometer. We must bear in mind that mountains have their own carrying capacity, they can only accept a limited number of people at a time. More people across the border increase the pressure on the mountains more than tourism.
It is necessary to control the arrival of tourists
Environmental activist Atul Sati says the decision by the Uttarakhand government on the number of pilgrims coming to the state for Char Dham Yatra is a matter of serious concern. Earlier, the daily quota of pilgrims visiting Char Dham was fixed. Yamunotri got 5,500 pilgrims daily, Gangotri 9,000, Badrinath 15,000 and Kedarnath 18,000, but now this daily limit has been abolished.