A new government has taken charge of our state, a government which in it’s many rallies had constantly re-iterated that they seek votes in the name of development.
In the words of Modi Ji, our Prime Minister, at his rally in Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal, “उत्तराखंड में भारतीय जनता पार्टी की सरकार विकास के मुद्दे पर आपसे वोट मांग रही है” [In Uttarakhand, the Bhartiya Janta Party seeks your votes on the issue of development].
As a citizen of Uttarakhand, I am happy that for once we finally have a government which did not ask for votes based on our caste, creed or religion but on the promise of, “सबका साथ, सबका विकास” [Everyone’s support, Everyone’s development]. We’ve given you our support Modi Ji, we now await the growth.
At this point, I would like to mention that, personally, I am politically neutral. I am not pro someone or against someone, lest this post becomes an issue of political debate. Moreover, this article isn’t politically fuelled, as many would think, considering the above two paragraphs where I quote our Prime Minister.
The only thing I seek is development and I could not care less which political party finally does it for us. Because promises during the election season are like the transient rains that occur during the hot summer months. They do bring us momentary relief from the scorching sun, but in an hour or so one wouldn’t even know that if it had rained or not.
I’d now like to redirect your gaze at Nainital, which is a small hill station in Uttarakhand. Let me share a picture of our town.
Doesn’t it look beautiful?
The economy of our town is predominantly based on tourism, with lakhs of people flocking into town every year. In fact, majority of the rural Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand depend on tourism as a means of livelihood. Tourism is our bread and butter.
Like every other constituency of Uttarakhand, we too voted for the incoming government but we did not seek the promises of “विकास” [development], which were re-iterated time and again. We were looking for something more banal, something more frugal. We were looking for survival.
Welcome to, what we now call, The Nainital Beach.
BUT, the lake didn’t always look like that. This is what it used to be like!
The water level that, not more than 2 years ago, reached these steps and at times was on the brink of overflowing was reduced to this at the beginning of the of 2016 (picture taken on 14th April, 2016).
The citizens of Nainital look upon the misery of the lake to wonder what we ever did to deserve this.
And although each and every individual knows the answer, no one is ready to admit that, in our attempts to build better futures for ourselves, the stress that we had put on our natural resources has led to this.
April 2016, was just a small glimpse of what the lake would look like without water. May and June, the two hottest months, were still left. And as you may have guessed, things worsened.
In May 2016, when the town administration decided to act on the matter, it was too late. The water had already plummeted. Although the town administration claims to have removed around 10,000 trucks of silt from the lake, as an onlooker, I’ve seen most of the silt accumulated by these hefty machines being deposited on the banks of the lake and then go back into the lake again. “10,000 trucks of silt removed” is a claim which I do not think is warranted or could possibly be backed up, because if that was the case we wouldn’t be back to square one in March 2017.
Do we really want to be caught up in this endless cycle of water or no water?
The need of the hour is not to blame or point fingers at the administration or the government but to come up with a properly researched plan that can address this issue. Probably, the use of the dredging mechanism could help in the excavation of the silt. But, randomly placing excavators to extract the silt which has accumulated mostly over the last three decades would not be the solution.
It’s not just our government’s or administration’s duty, civilians just cannot pollute the environment and think that others will clean it up for us. It is our civic duty too. As civilians, we need to make sure that wastes are disposed off in the correct manner. We shouldn’t dispose off the wastes openly or throw them into the open drains because everything would eventually find it’s way into the lake. As citizens of the town, we need to understand and carry out our civic duties too.
If we do not act now, it wouldn’t be long that instead of the lake we would just have a huge crater in the middle of the town. Or probably a gigantic swamp. Without the lake, temperatures would soar, the climate would undergo drastic changes (already is), snowfall would be a distant dream, tourists would no longer visit and the economy of our town would disintegrate. Eventually, the essence of Nainital would fade away!
If we don’t we would only be left with huge mounds of silt all along the banks of the Lake, which would eventually engulf the left over water. Here are two samples, which I’ve captured, as I walk alongside the lake to demonstrate the severity of the issue.