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�Himalayan ecology must be protected�

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Nov 20 � The Himalaya has great influence on the global climatic condition. Particularly, its direct influence is felt in the whole of South Asia. Hence there is an urgent need to guard it from any sort of environmental damage caused by developmental activities.

This was the observation made by Chandi Prasad Bhatt, a pioneer of the Chipko movement for conservation of the Himalayan environment. He was delivering an ICSSR-NER lecture on the lessons of the Chipko movement at the Cotton College Conference Hall here on Friday. The lecture was jointly organized by the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development and the Department of Political Science, Cotton College.

The damage to the Himalayan environment has burdened the rivers originating from this mountain range with heavy loads of silt. This is one of the reasons as to why the Brahmaputra and its tributaries have been carrying increased loads of silt these days.

Moreover, while undertaking development projects, one should always be careful of the fact that the Himalaya is located in a highly sensitive seismic region. These days, it is also reported that the Himalayan glaciers have also started shrinking. So far 20 to 30 such glaciers have been studied, of the about 9,000 Himalayan glaciers, by the scientists. There is a need to study more such glaciers.

Moreover, the excessive melting of the glaciers has also led to creation of lakes within the glaciers and bursting of these lakes have the potential to create flash floods in the downstream plains. Again, the shrinking glaciers are sure to make the rivers they are now feeding, go dry.

Besides, the Himalayan forests are facing the growing threat of rapid denudation due to the construction of the motorable roads, he said.

The traditional developmental approach of the country�s people was to develop their areas without disturbing the environment. But these days, the developmental approach pays less attention to the impacts of the projects on the environment.

This is the reason as to why the new structures in the Himalayan region collapse at the slightest jerk of an earthquake, while the old structures, like the Kedarnath Temple, can withstand such tremors for ages, said Bhatt.

Answering to a question, he said that the 168 hydroelectric power projects proposed in the NE region mostly over the Himalayan rivers should be so planned that their benefits are more compared to the damages they would cause.

He also laid stress on thorough studies prior to undertaking the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project.

Addressing the gathering, former Principal of Cotton College Prof Anil Kumar Goswami, who is also a prominent figure in the popular science movement of the State, said that the time taken for planning and conducting the environment impact assessment (EIA) study of the Lower Subansiri Project was short. Moreover, the EIA of the project was done in a very casual manner, he said.

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