Reasons and Solutions for disaster management in Uttarakhand

Synopsis: There are various reasons for Disasters in Uttarakhand. It can be prevented by taking some long-term measures.

Background:

  • The glacier burst in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand caused the flash floods. It led to the death of 34 people with more than 170 people missing.
  • Apart from that, it also caused destruction to public and private infrastructure. For example, It damaged the NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydropower project and the Rishiganga mini-hydro project.
  • The recent disaster reminds the 2013 disaster in Uttarakhand which resulted in the death of thousands of people.
  • The scientific community still doesn’t have the exact reason for the cause of this disaster.

What are the possible reasons for the cause of the disaster in Uttarakhand?

The scientific community still doesn’t have the exact reason for this disaster. However, some possible reasons are discussed below.

  • First, the Natural ecology of Uttarakhand and its fragile mountain ecosystem is prone to such disaster. Uttarakhand is located between the young and unstable mountains. Moreover, intense rainfall makes it more vulnerable.
  • Second, as per geologists, glaciologists, and climate experts, climate change, rapid and indiscriminate construction activities, and the subsequent ecological destruction are disturbing the balance of the ecosystem in this region.
      • For example, The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment Report (2019) had pointed out that one-third of the Hindu Kush Himalaya’s glaciers would melt by 2100. It may happen even if all the countries in the region fulfilled their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
      • It also warned that any ecologically destructive activities would lead to more intensified disasters like landslides.
  • Third, according to the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, rock mass might have weakened due to intense freezing and thawing of snow. This may have created a weak zone. Fractures led to a collapse that resulted in flash floods.
  • Fourth, Experts also opine that massive deforestation is a possible reason for the disaster. For example, in 2014, the Chopra committee established that the haphazard construction of dams can cause irreversible damage to the region.
  • Fifth, there are also possibilities that the use of explosives in the construction of dams and other infrastructure would have weakened the rock strata.

What needs to be done?

  • First, Government should Invest in long-term crisis response mechanisms and resilience solutions such as,
      • Flood prevention and rapid response.
      • Road stabilization technologies for fragile road networks, bridges, culverts, and tunnels.
      • Strengthening embankments using scientific knowledge.
      • Investing in monitoring and early warning system.
      • Investing in training and capacity building of local communities to prevent and manage risks effectively.
  • Second, hydropower and other public infrastructure projects need reassessment based on the sensitivity of local ecology.
  • Third, implementing pragmatic policies and regulatory guidelines such as responsible eco- and religious tourism policies. This will restrict detrimental human activities.
  • Fourth, applying innovative and inclusive solutions that support nature and marginalized communities, to restore and rebuild a resilient future for Uttarakhand.
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