Uttarakhand Needs Strong Land Laws to Mitigate Disasters

(Ratan Singh Aswal, Migration Thinker) 

Satpuli Pauri : Disasters are an inevitable part of living in the mountains. However, Uttarakhand needs a strong land law to minimize the damage caused by natural calamities. The state, like other hilly regions, requires laws that cater to the unique geographical and environmental conditions of the area.

The Young Mountains and Settlements in Uttarakhand

The Himalayas are the youngest mountain ranges globally and evidence of this can be seen when visiting the Himalayas. If we take a closer look at the settlements in Uttarakhand, it becomes apparent that except for the river valleys, most of the lands appear to be situated on top of the slides.

Calamities and the People of Himalayan States

Calamities and the people in the Himalayan states go hand in hand. There is a popular saying, “to fall, get up after falling and walk again,” which is part of the basic nature of a mountain man. Disaster mitigation and disaster-affected areas require a skilled team of geologists. It is ironic that the state, which produces two hundred geo-scientists every year, has engineers and MBA graduates managing disasters, while non-Himalayan state consultants are hired instead of geologists.

Ground Reality of Disasters in Uttarakhand

In the rural areas of the state, geologists’ suggestions and treatment for disaster-affected villages fall on deaf ears as the government claims to have no budget for it. The lack of safe land for displacement, coupled with the sloping terrain, makes it challenging to level the land without walls. As a result, people are forced to live in the old landslide zones, putting their lives and property at risk.

The Need for Strong Land Laws in Uttarakhand

The public representatives’ agenda seems to revolve around elections, and officers’ thinking is limited to transfer postings and salary allowances. It is imperative to have strong land laws in place to ensure that the people’s safety is prioritized over economic and civil engineering gains. The bureaucratic and political leadership of the state must have individuals with expertise in the relevant fields.

Saving the Heritage of Uttarakhand’s Forefathers

Uttarakhand has a diverse cultural heritage that includes the arts, music, dance, folklore, and traditional knowledge systems. The state is known for its unique architectural styles, such as the intricate wooden carvings found in the temples of Kumaon and the stone structures of Garhwal. These structures are not only aesthetically pleasing but also have historical and religious significance. They are a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of Uttarakhand’s forefathers.

Furthermore, Uttarakhand’s heritage is closely linked to the state’s identity and economy. The tourism industry, which contributes significantly to the state’s economy, relies heavily on the cultural attractions of Uttarakhand. Thus, preserving the state’s heritage is crucial for sustainable development.

It is time to take action and save the heritage of our forefathers for future generations.  It is not enough to sit hand in hand and let disasters wreak havoc on the state. We must join shoulder to shoulder and work towards safeguarding the Himalayas.

Uttarakhand requires a strong land law that prioritizes disaster mitigation and ensures the safety of its people. It is time to take action and save the state’s heritage for future generations.

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