Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Joshimath crisis is a reminder that nature will retaliate after a certain tipping point

“The Joshimath crisis is a reminder that nature will retaliate after a certain tipping point,” says an environmental expert

Bikrant Tiwary, CEO of Grow-Trees.com says massive afforestation can help repair the fault lines in Uttarakhand’s ecosystem

Uttarakhand is currently making news for all the wrong reasons. The state that falls under the West Himalayan biogeography has been the focal point of concern for environmentalists with the recent Joshimath crisis, where cracks in the buildings, roads, and agricultural land have sent alarm bells ringing far and wide. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released a satellite image showing how the town in the Chamoli district in Uttarakhand sank by 5.4 centimeters within just 12 days. More than 700 houses have been damaged and the state has been recognised as a landslide and land subsidence zone by the Chamoli District Magistrate.

Noting how deforestation has been a major cause behind the Joshimath crisis, environmental expert and CEO of the social organisation, Grow-Trees. com, Bikrant Tiwary says,” As per the open source web application, Global Forest Watch, the state has lost 820 ha of natural forest in 2021, which is equivalent to carbon emission of 426kt. These trees have been cut for developmental activities in this tourist hotspot which in turn has put immense pressure on the natural environment. Land sinking in the Joshimath was reported as early as the 1970s and persistent mechanical activities, tourism and unregulated construction activities have disrupted ecology even more.”

Bikrant points out that Joshimath came into being on the debris of landslides and loose soil which is prone to slide and sink. “Drilling, tunnel boring activities and heedless construction will lead to irreversible damage to this already fragile ecosystem,” he adds.

To mitigate these calamities, Grow-Trees.com, initiated the ‘Trees for Ecotourism’ project in the ‘Van Panchayat’ regions of Kyar Kuli Bhatta and Mussoorie across an area of over 20 hectares of land where local tree species like Aadu/ Peach (Prunuspersica), White orchid tree (Bauhinia picta), Orange (Citrus X Sinensis), Bhimal (GrewiaOptiva) and many more have been planted.

These trees, says Bikrant, are capable of absorbing 300,000 kgs of atmospheric carbon and will not only reclaim the forest land but also control soil erosion, check water surface run-off, enhance wildlife habitats and nourish the ecosystem. Afforestation also encourages direct community involvement, generates local employment as well as livelihood options and augments rural economy.

Concludes Bikrant, ” The Joshimath crisis is a reminder that nature will retaliate after a certain tipping point. When we create ecological imbalance, we alone will have to face the consequences. Afforestation can help repair the fault lines in Uttarakhand’s ecosystem but we also need to curtail disruptive activities that have already created havoc in the region.”

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