Declare Himalayan region eco-sensitive zone: Sunder Lal Bahuguna

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By: Ravinder Vasudeva

Bilaspur: Padam Vibhusahan awardee and Chipko movement leader Sunder Lal Bahuguna has demanded that the whole Himalayan region in India should be declared a ‘Eco-sensitive Zone’ and no more dams, cement factories and hydro-electric projects be allowed in Himachal Pradesh, keeping in mind the high level of earthquake sensitivity of the region.

Bhauguna, who was in the city to participate in the two-day conference on development of Himalayas, organized by the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan Samiti, in a brief interview with HimVani, said that Himalayas do not mean only forests and hills but also the communities that survive there.

“We have to realise that wood in not the main produce of the Himalayas. It is the water for which the Himalayas work as the perennial source from ages. Keeping in mind the present scenario of global warming, it becomes our duty to treat Himalayas as the most sensitive aspect while carrying out any developmental activities in the region, so that this perennial source of water can be protected for the development of the entire nation.” He said that further deterioration of the Himalayas would directly lead to great threat to the society and the nation.

83-year-old Bahuguna, who since long has been raising voice against various environmental issues in the country and himself is a ‘pahari’ native from Tehri area of Uttrakakhand, insisted upon the formation of stringent policy for the growth of whole Himalayan region so that the beauty of the region can be protected. “The states of Himachal, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir are known for their natural beauty. If the beauty of the region is scarred by inviting more and more industries and other big hydel projects and dams, tourist would hesitate to visit the region and would prefer the other regions, eventually effecting the tourism prospective of the region,” he said, demanding that the state and Central governments should make provisions to pay royalty for using water from the region as these mountain regions have little other sources for their development except water. “Some part of this royalty can be used to develop the region,” he suggested.

Bahuguna asked the people to rise up on the environment issues, and pleaded the government for adopting society-oriented balance between development and environment so that the society gets least suffererings. “We don’t need sector-based development but area-based development,” said Bahuguna.