Manali: Unbridled growth in Kullu valley in recent years is increasingly raising environmental concerns as much of the rich bio-diversity faces the onslaught of human encroachment as well as incursion of large hydro projects into sensitive zones.
Much has been said than done, on the detrimental effects of modern civilization on the environment and threat to the valley’s National parks and Sanctuaries. Human greed backed by unabated pressure of human needs is taking its toll on the green reserve of the Dev Bhumi, at an astonishing pace.
The western Himalayas are home to a host of many endangered plants and animals like the Sorrow, the Himalayan Thar, Chir Pheasant, the Musk Deer and the Western Tragopan, which has been listed in the red data book of the International Union for Conservation of nature.
Forest fire is also other great concern for healthy upkeep of bio- diversity. One can find numerous trees which are burnt to get charcoal to meet the demands of nearest tourist town, which later are left unattended which is the major reason for forest fires.
Adding further fuel to the conservation problems in the valley is the construction of power projects in valley resulting in major deforestation and construction of massive roads by cutting hundreds of year’s old, matured trees which once were a dense cover for the wild inhabitants.
Although it seems to be activities of development but they are great threat to fragile ecology of the mountains and local community livelihoods. Moreover urban and modern lifestyle and consumerism are a major factor in the above threats.
The unabated quarrying and dumping of debris by Hydro projects in valley in the tributaries of Beas River should be checked and suitably challenged by the concern state Government departments, so that history of 1995 flash floods in the valley is not repeated.
It may be recalled that in the year 1995 when the devastating floods in Beas River and other rivulets had wreaked havoc in Kullu valley, Kullu – Manali highway was badly damaged and washed away at more than 16 points.
Krishan Lal, an environmentalist from Kullu valley let Hill Post know that considering the fragility of the ecosystem of the valley archaic laws which date back to as early as to India’s pre- independence period should be analyzed and appropriately amended.
He said that there is urgent need for creating awareness and raising information level on ecological and conservation issue.
Alternative employment opportunities need to be created for communities that can sustain wildlife for economic interests.
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.