Daily Answer Writing And Mentorship Program
Q: Identify the possible risk associated with development projects in the Himalayan region and suggest measures to minimize these risks. (15 marks, 250 words)
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The fragility of the Himalayan ecosystem was recently highlighted by incidents of land slide in Himachal Pradesh and land sinking in Joshi math. Such a crisis has generated intense debate on aspects of development and environmental sustainability in the region.
The construction of development projects in the Himalayan region poses following potential risks:
1. Ecological Impact:
· Deforestation: Large-scale projects often require clearing vast areas of forest and leading to habitat loss
and biodiversity depletion.
Ø E.g., Construction of roads and hydropower projects in Uttarakhand has resulted in significant
deforestation, negatively impacting wildlife populations.
· Soil Erosion: Improper construction practices can lead to soil erosion, particularly in hilly terrains
resulting in landslides, reduced soil fertility, and downstream sedimentation.
Ø E.g., Siltation of rivers will lead to flooding during rainfall.
· Glacial Melting: Climate change-induced global warming has accelerated glacial melting, affecting water
Ø E.g., the Gangotri glacier is receding at a rate of 21.5 meters per year.
· Increased Natural Disasters: Developmental Projects can exacerbate natural disasters like floods,
landslides risk by altering natural drainage patterns or destabilizing slopes.
Ø E.g., the 2015 Nepal earthquake caused widespread destruction, and the haphazard construction
practices in urban areas amplified the impact.
2. Socioeconomic Risk:
· Displacement of Communities: Development projects often involve the displacement of local
communities, leading to the loss of livelihoods, cultural heritage, economic hardships and social
Ø For example, the construction of Tehri Dam, displaced thousands of people.
3. Geological Risk:
· Landslides and Avalanches: Construction activities can trigger or worsen landslides and avalanche
hazards, endangering lives and infrastructure.
Ø E.g., The 2017 landslide in the Rishi Ganga Valley in Uttarakhand caused by construction activities.
· Seismic Vulnerability: Poorly planned construction projects can increase vulnerability to seismic events,
endangering lives and infrastructure.
Ø The devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake resulted in over 8,000 deaths and significant damage to
buildings and infrastructure.
Measures to mitigate these risks:
· Reforestation and Afforestation: Implement reforestation programs to restore and conserve forest
Ø E.g., National Afforestation Programme, Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and
Planning Authority (CAMPA) are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities.
· Sustainable Construction Practices: Encourage the use of environmentally friendly construction
techniques and materials that minimize deforestation and soil erosion.
Ø E.g., implementing recommendations of National Building Code 2005, Central Building Research
Institute-Roorkee, etc which talks about making buildings in disaster prone areas.
· Glacier Monitoring and Research: Establish monitoring systems to track glacial retreat and understand
its impact on water resources.
Ø E.g., the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem.
· Disaster Preparedness and Early Warning Systems: Invest in robust disaster management systems,
including early warning systems, to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
· Seismic Safety Standards: Enforce strict adherence to seismic safety codes and regulations during
project design and construction.
To ensure sustainable development in the Himalayan region, governments and stakeholders must take steps to
mitigate the risks of construction projects, such as preserving the environment, promoting social well being, and
protecting against geological hazards and climate change.