EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Molding the Himalayas needs caution – PuuchoIAS



Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Parliament-Structure, organization and functioning, Disaster Management, Himalayas, GSI, UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, World bank, 74th amendment etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Parliament- structure, functioning and conduct of Business etc



  • The hurdles in delaying the rescue of 41 labourers, who have been trapped inside the trapped Silkyara tunnel.
  • The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) is building the tunnel




Char Dham road project:

  • It is an ambitious attempt to widen nearly 900 kilometres of hill roads
  • The project will be executed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH)
  • Aim: To provide all-weather connectivity to the four major shrine:
    • Yamunotri
    • Gangotri
    • Kedarnath
  • It will increase pilgrimage tourism from the Indian plains
  • It will provide attendant local economic dividends.



  • Rampant construction and its complex interaction with climate change: It has led to massive landslides and floods in the fragile Himalayan range


  • The processes in which environment clearances were sought, undermining safety protocols
  • A new form of architecture built to construct and monitor infrastructure projects, if at all they are desired, in the region.
  • The flash floods of 2013 in Uttarakhand are suggested as the reason for the construction of the Char Dham Yatra.
  • The Himalayas are the youngest range of mountains and are still in the formative stages.
    • Geological and geotechnical studies: This is a dangerous project and fatality-induced.
  • This area is extremely sensitive to earthquakes and frictional shear rocks are present as well.
    • Constructing in this zone is dangerous.
  • The construction and projects in the region has led to a situation where even the basics of mountain construction codes have been set aside.
  • The Environment Impact Assessment has not been taken seriously.
    • For example: The Char Dham Project, which is around 900 kilometres long and should have a single EIA.
    • The project was broken into 53 sections so that the EIA is prepared for a lesser region.
    • The impact exhibited would also be lesser than for a large ecosystem of 900 kilometres.

Way Forward

  • The Supreme Court of India has already seized on the matter on the issue of carrying capacity in the Himalayas.
    • The apex court should push for a dialogue on it.
  • The carrying capacity cannot just be limited to the number of people an ecosystem can sustain.
    • It also has to take into cognisance the total carrying capacity of the IHR from the infrastructure aspect.
  • The IHR is in a transformative phase and the impetus for this transformation unfortunately comes from the new geographies.
  • There are spatial and temporal changes that go beyond the scope and spaces of the Himalayan aesthetic, culture, and building typologies.
  • Sheer integration with the rest is not the way of sustaining them
    • This would plunder the region.

■      Safety protocols: The construction of the Atal tunnel in the Kullu, and Lahaul & Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh.

○      The executing company was so particular in implementing safety measures that not a single casualty has been reported in its construction.

○      They did not allow the workers to enter the tunnel unless all the protocols were followed and checked.

  • International protocols and monitoring processes for tunnelling that are efficient should be adopted.
  • A new legislative architecture that allows people to monitor these projects and ensures that geological experts are part of every move is required.
  • The local communities who have lived in the mountains should be an essential part of these monitoring structures with strict protocols.
  • Civil society groups and community-driven organisations should be made part of the monitoring exercise.
  • The NHAI must realise that they are making roads on soil and mountains and not on drawing boards in their offices.
    • The BRO and even the PMGSY have a better protocol of construction, where a certain period is allowed for stability.
  • The overemphasis on meeting targets without stability and safety standards is further accentuating the disaster proneness.



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