Uttarakhand Disaster

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Uttarakhand's path to devastation a natural calamity or a result of industrialisation? (The hill state of Uttarakhand…)

India's go-to person for tourism, the man who branded Kerala as "God's own country", and turned the southern state into one of the busiest tourist destinations in the country, simply cannot come to terms with the devastation in Uttarakhand.

Amitabh Kant, who is credited with pioneering tourism marketing in India, believes the tragedy is because of a significant error of judgement of the state authorities. "Uttarakhand should not have taken the path of industrialisation for development and should have been developed as the best destination for sustainable tourism in the world. States must focus on their core competence; not every state should industrialise." It's difficult not to agree with Kant after seeing images of the hill state that has been ravaged by floods. More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed and at the time of writing as many as 1,400 were still stranded.(On Saturday, the Uttarakhand assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal said the death toll could cross 10,000.) Rescue efforts have been hampered by incessant rains and the tough mountain terrain. Even as television channels beamed horrific visuals of the calamity, the debate on whether the industrialisation of the hill state had contributed to the disaster turned into a face-off between environmentalists and the chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, who claimed the tragedy was a natural calamity.

"This is a very childish argument that cloudbursts, earthquakes and tsunamis are because of human factors. In the history of hundreds of years of Kedarnath, no such incident has taken place. In a Himalayan state, this catastrophe has come about in 37,000 square miles of area. This cloudburst, 330 millimetres of rain, cannot be anticipated," Bahuguna said in an interview to Times of India. Sunita Narain, director general, Centre for Science and Environment, is one of the many...
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