Uttranchal – an opportunity
Issues of conservation that affect hill stations and hill areas take on particular significance in Uttranchal. The creation of this new state was founded on a struggle for equity in the ownership and use of natural resources. Local wisdom here has always recognized that human progress and protection of the environment are complementary, not competitive, concepts. It is this wisdom that inspired the Chipko movement, making these hills an international symbol. The later campaigns against mining havoc in Mussoorie as well as to ‘Save the Doon’ led to judgments and legislation of national significance. With this legacy, Uttranchal might be expected to innovate development models distinct from those created on the plains below for over fifty years. Of these there is yet little sign. Indeed, pollution and chaos seem to be accelerating, and even the controversial Tehri Dam experience has not inspired alternative paradigms for hill development.
A few days ago, a group of visitors to Dhanaulti and the temple of Surkunda Devi, prime tourism destinations on the road to Tehri, stopped at a dhaba along the way. They joined a handful of residents taking tea in the morning sun, and asked what difference the flow of visitors was making to their lives? Were income opportunities improving for them, and job prospects for the children now chanting their lessons in the nearby schoolhouse? Yes, there were advantages. A market for local produce and some employment were the most obvious. But the price the locality was paying was high. ...
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