The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance teamed with TERI, Navdanya and Ganga Action Parivar to produce a policy discussion paper that identified key problem areas as well as recommendations for actions that can be taken in order to safeguard lives and the ecology in the wake of the disaster in Uttarakhand disaster. The paper was presented to Uttarakhand’s then Chief Minister, Shri Vijay Bahuguna by Nobel Prize Laureate, Dr. RK Pachauri and Global Interfaith WASH Alliance team members.
Among the Findings Outlined in the Document:
- Unstable and Unplanned Development: Including building too closely to the Ganga, its tributaries and other rivers.
- Lack of Sustainable Water and Toilets
- Lack of Facilitated and Coordinated Disaster Risk Reduction: prevention, response and management.
- Improper Re-Forestation: Since the time of British rule, indigenous trees, such as the Himalayan Banj Oak, have been replaced with species such as the Chir Pine. While fallen Banj leaves nourish undergrowth and absorb moisture for underground aquifers, shed pine needles do not, causing increased erosion, more susceptibility to landslides, and less water to be absorbed into underground aquifers.
- Unregulated Tourism: Uttarakhand’s Himalayan region, to which so many people travel every year, is geologically young and unstable, meaning the influx of crowds, as well as the infrastructure needs required to support them, can trigger dangers such as landslides. This can also exacerbate the deadly aftermaths of other disasters, such as earthquakes and floods. While ecologists have continually warned and predicted that more traffic would bring more landslides and add to micro-climatic warming in the Himalayas, it has been reported that Uttarakhand has seen a 1000% increase in vehicular traffic over the past eight years alone.