Human activities hiking risk of calamities
press trust of india
New Delhi, 4 August
Increasing human activities are augmenting the risk of natural disasters in the ecologically sensitive region of Kedarnath which was washed away by floods triggered by cloudburst in June, a latest study states.
A team of scientists from the prestigious Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology has warned that rise in human activities, like pilgrimage and tourism, around the area would increase the risk of such disasters in future.
Kedarnath is encircled by channels of Mandakini and Saraswati rivers which meet near the town.
The study led by scientist D P Dobhal, well-known for his work on Himalayan glaciers, says overcrowding of people and constructions have obstructed the natural flow of Saraswati river which now flows just behind Kedarnath town.
Similarly on down-stream near Rambara and Gaurikund, houses were constructed on loose soil making them prone to natural disasters and landslides, it said. Dobhal, who has been named in the Times magazine list of "Heroes of Himalayas" in 2007, said heavy rains on 16 June evening flooded the catchment area of Saraswati and Dudh Ganga, resulting in overflowing of channels which triggered erosion and subsequent silting up in the rivers.
This resulted in huge volumes of water along with loose soil and debris from glacial moraines forming a slush which moved with unprecedented energy towards Kedarnath town and washed off its upper parts where Sankaracharya samadhi, Jal Nigam guest house and Bharat Seva Sangh Ashram are located.
“While reconstruction efforts are going on in the region, government must ensure that construction should take place away from the temple at a safe location. Strict environment guidelines should be followed and a database of pilgrims climbing towards temple should be maintained to avoid such mis-happenings,” Mr Dobhal told PTI.