By Amit Ranat:
Uttarakhand is a state which seems to be perpetually in the news because of horrific natural disasters. A couple of years back, in 2013 to be precise, the mad fury of the floods at Kedarnath killed thousands and amounted to a massive loss of property and infrastructure. The chaos was beyond human control and the army’s herculean efforts to save those who were stuck in the region was widely broadcasted on TV. Many pilgrims who had gone seeking the blessings of Shiva never returned again.
If that wasn’t enough, the hills of Uttarakhand had more misery stocked amidst their breezy trees. And that has come to be one of the most discussed events of this year so far. A huge forest fire charred acres and acres of forest land across the state while the government and local authorities watched with alarm.
Three of Uttarakhand’s National Parks also, received considerable damage in the last few months, as nearly 198 hectares in Corbett National Park, 60 hectares in the Kedarnath musk deer sanctuary and 70 hectares in the Rajaji National Park and tiger reserve were gutted.
However, on the other hand, our Indian Government is now planning to spend around $6 billion to create new forests in India! I am shocked and quite surprised as to why our Government feels the need to set aside such a huge chunk of money to create better forest coverage in a country like India where almost 23.4% of the total geographical area is already forested. And obviously, the next question that follows is, how come the government doesn’t think it’s important to allot this money to save the already existing forests of our country?
Tree chopping has become a commonplace incidence. Tribals in Orissa are fighting big corporates to save their hills and the flora and fauna that surround it; cities across India are getting lesser and lesser green coverage as multi-storied building define new skylines, and the Uttarakhand forest fires are an annual event shrouded in much mystery involving hush-hush words like wood mafia and corrupt admins and village panchayats.
If only the Government would take initiatives to implement better resources and manpower to combat such tragedies as has befallen Uttarakhand this year, with the state struggling to douse hectares of flaming forests with just two (yes two) helicopters, maybe Narendra Modi wouldn’t have to announce such ridiculous relief funds for the poor Indian forests anymore.