The terrible glacier disaster in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district once again started the conversation around reckless developmental activities that are major contributors to unfortunate calamities, even if not always the prime cause of their occurrence.
While the exact cause behind the Uttarakhand tragedy is still being ascertained, these events are a grim reminder of the consequences of development without caring for mother nature.
Here are 10 other times nature lost to development in India, because we preferred development over everything else.
1. The Uttarakhand government cleared diversion of about 70 hectares of forest land in the Gangotri National Park for construction of strategically important roads to China border.
The proposal will now be sent to the National Board for Wildlife for final approval
2. The highly anticipated Delhi-Dehradun Expressway will come at the cost of felling 2,500 trees in Uttarakhand.
The 4-km stretch where deforestation will take place mostly consists of a century old Sal trees. The good thing is that this will be the first expressway in India which will have a 12 km long elevated corridor for protecting wildlife.
3. Many of 41 coal mines in Central India recently opened for commercial mining are located in biodiversity-rich forest areas.
PM Modi launched the auction of these mines in June 2020.
4. The ambitious Char Dham road project will lead to the felling of over 56,000 trees in the ecologically fragile Himalayas.
According to data exclusively accessed by TOI, 36,000 trees have already been cut and rest are awaiting approval. Considerable work on the project has already been carried out by three implementing agencies, PWD, Border Roads Organisation and National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited.
5. The forest department gave permission to cut over 300 trees on Delhi-Gurgaon border for the expansion of road and construction of a cycle track.
6. The Indian Railways received all the requisite wildlife, forestry and coastal regulation zone clearances in Gujarat and Maharashtra for the 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail Corridor.
7. The Supreme Court recently gave clearance to 138 projects, including several hydro and one hybrid electric project, involving diversion of 614 hectares in Himachal Pradesh.
8. The Union environment ministry recommended environmental clearance for expanding the Kulda opencast coal mine in Odisha overriding opposition by residents.
Locals have raised concern over the project’s impact on their health, agriculture and water bodies.
9. The construction of a 11.5-km long road cutting through the lone corridor between the Corbett and Rajaji tiger reserves got approval from Uttarakhand forest department.
10. A committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests granted its approval to the diversion of forest land from notified wildlife sanctuaries in Mollem for three projects.
The approval has attracted widespread protests in Goa.
This irresponsible rush to build roads and other infrastructure in ecologically fragile regions could cost humanity a lot.