Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, a beautiful hill station, especially known for its magnificence and freshness is a very popular tourist destination. Dwelling on a panoramic location, the hilly town is surrounded by green postures, snow-capped peaks and situated at the ranges of Himalayas. It is blessed with the entire natural bounties one can think of. Today it has all well developed facilities, which includes shopping spots, sports and various attractions.
However, in order to accommodate the large tourist influx and the growing population in the city, lots of new buildings are being constructed every year. Vast and unplanned development are causing irreparable damage to the town. The problems of litter, pollution, noise, erosion, landslides have become acute.
Tourism brings a large number of people together, which leads to marked changes that are detrimental to the ecosystem as a whole. Overcrowding is one of the biggest issues plaguing tourist destinations. The government need to take a more sophisticated approach in order to manage the influx of tourists.
The Himalayas have a great influence on the environmental conditions. They prevent the monsoon winds from crossing over, which in turn precipitate most of their moisture in the form of rain and snow. This unique ecology of the Himalayas has a huge influence on the life of our people, and it needs to be carefully preserved. Human inference in the natural environmental conditions often leads to irreparable damage to the natural balance of the ecosystem. We need to stop this exploitation of natural resources in the name of economic development. We as human beings are at the crossroads. Careless application of technology and deforestation, is leading to eco-degradation and pollution.
Once known as the Queen of hills, Shimla is fast becoming an urban nightmare because of haphazard construction and growing population. Today, we as Shimlaites are feeling alienated. We feel the pain and suffocation when we see our town being destroyed and can do nothing about it. This city was originally planned to hold a population of only 25000 people but unfortunately the current population is more than two lakh. It has already gone much beyond its bearing capacity.
A moderate to high intensity temblor can be catastrophic for the congested settlements with no escape routes due to the haphazard development and unplanned constructions where most buildings are precariously standing on the steep slopes and clinging to one another. They are likely to collapse like a pack of cards.
During construction some owners include trees inside their buildings and later plead to the district administration for their removal as they pose threat to their buildings. All these irregularities are spoiling the beauty of hill towns, more particularly the capital, Shimla. We can only blame these unplanned and illegal constructions which is being carried out and all-out efforts being made for converting the once scenic hills of this town into a concrete jungle.
The future of the town looks bleak unless environmentally harmful constructions are banned and more green belt areas are regularised.
This is also to assess the grave threats to the survival of the city of Shimla. It is the residents of Shimla who will be the main losers if the stability of the fragile and sensitive ecosystem of Shimla cracks up. By destroying our ecosystem we are not destroying ourselves, but we are destroying the earth which for centuries has sustained us.
Sustainable development is, therefore, a concept of good and sound economic growth that can be maintained with damage to the environment. To maintain the ecological balance in the hills afforestation should be encouraged by planting mixed trees. There should be a check on over-exploitation of the forest by government contractors and deforestation operations. Efforts should be made to develop more hill stations as tourist centres in the state to avoid the overcrowding of tourists.
Any sort of development should be in harmony with the environment.