By Arunima Singh:
I remember how badly shaken all of India was by the natural disaster that took place in Uttarakhand in 2013. Floods and landslides caused a lot of death and destruction. Experts linked this to wide-spread deforestation.
Right now, the state is facing yet another ordeal. Many of the regions are witnessing forest fires, and the reason is uncertain. Some witnesses, such as below, suggest that this is being done by villagers, to extract wood and illegally make money off it. This kind of destruction and absence of any action undertaken in the presence of the village administration reeks of involvement.
The following has been taken from the Facebook account of Ela Smetacek:
What is extremely tragic about the whole issue is that the governments, the media, and we, the people, don’t seem to care. Before this Facebook post was shared widely, there were only two to three newspaper clippings on the issue in the Hindustan Times. Most of the big names in the media seemed least interested in this tragedy, and what could perhaps be smugglers or forest mafia operating in the garb of forest fires. Finally, when the Facebook post was shared enough times, and many on social media started questioning why this issue wasn’t given priority, bigger news channels started covering it. In the last few days, it seems that the mainstream media has woken up to the disaster taking place in Uttarakhand.
This is yet another episode of selective reporting that news channels seek to conform to more and more. They present and replay things which get them TRP, with seemingly little concern for what ‘the nation wants to know.’
After what happened there in 2013, we should have known better. Not only are these forests responsible for holding the land in the hills together, but they also help balance the extremely polluted areas in near vicinity (such as the Delhi NCR).
The forests are providers of livelihood, and a central aspect of the life of villagers who live around them. This is a great reminder of why we need to look away from conventional media every once in a while and look at such grave issues at hand ourselves. Let us not allow our media and the government to look the other way as Uttarakhand goes up in flames.