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The Climate Refugees of Uttarakhand
|by V. K. Joshi (Bijji)|
In India we have many kinds of refugees; for example, we have Bangladeshi refugees, refugees due to Kosi floods, Tibetan refugees, Kashmiri Hindu refugees etc. But for the first time a large chunk of population of a state has been so adversely affected by the climate that people have become refugees in their own state. Uma a teenage girl from Bhyunder, a small village of 99 families, enroute the Valley of Flowers, now in a relief camp, says her family has no option but to migrate and beg on the streets of a metro!
The state government did their best to encourage tourism in Uttarakhand. The number of tourists rose from 110.11 crores in 2000 to 300.11 crores in 2011, says a newspaper report. It was anticipated that by 2017 this number would double. Alas, while doing this jugglery of figures the state forgot one most important factor that is, the NATURE. This June, it rained 375% more than previous years-a record in itself. Plus much of it rained from 10 to 20 June. The problem is that one cannot wish away rains and or earthquakes. Secondly, due to Greenhouse effect sudden rains and sudden droughts are going to be a routine. As of today, the type of rain which Uttarakhand experienced is once in 100 years, but in near future it is likely to occur in a ten year cycle say the climate experts.
One might have remained ignorant about the possible mishap of this scale in Uttarakhand, but it was in the offing and the nature had given adequate warnings in the form of heavy landslides in the preceding years. Even in routine the Himalayas are prone to disasters. The statistics of the UN say that the present disaster of Uttarakhand was just one of the 76 disasters that hit the Himalayan region killing 76000 people and affecting 178 million people every year. It further says that between 1990 and 2012 the Himalayas within the Indian territory were hit by 532 natural disaster. During the same period the Chinese territory was hit by 670 natural disasters.
The future of the mountain dwellers appears to be bleak, as per the climate experts. They expect frequent bouts of heavy rains. This would mean more floods. Naturally the rivers will have to carry more and more sediments. This will reduce the carrying capacity of the rivers and in turn cause problems for their main body in the plains. The streams are likely to be almost choked with sediments.
Image (c) Gettyimages.com
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