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Political consensus must for preserving hill ecology: By Jotirmay Thapliyal

Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran has stressed that a political consensus was necessary for taking tough decisions for sustaining the Himalayan ecology. Saran is now settled in Dehradun post-retirement.
Talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of “Deliberations on Kedarnath Tragedy” held at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, Saran said all efforts to ensure sustenance of the Himalayan ecology finally boiled down to politics. “We need a political consensus and of course willpower to take tough decisions on the issue of sustaining the Himalayan ecology,” he said.

Lans

Himalayas from Lansdowne

Saran said if a particular political party decides not to construct a road in a particular fragile zone, the other might oppose the decision solely due to political considerations. “Thus a political consensus on the issues of sustainable ecological development is very much needed,” he pointed out. He suggested that it would be better if the Chief Ministers of the Himalayan states in the country come together on such issues rather than making ecologically sensitive issues a political football. He appealed to scientists not to ignore from political issues when it comes to ecology.
Sarna referred to pilgrimage tourism in Uttarakhand and said it should be promoted in a way that people were benefited from it. “Only then they will have a stake in saving ecology,” he said.
He referred to the format of eco-tourism undertaken in Nepal. “As an Indian Ambassador to Nepal, I found that in a tourist place like Annapurna, homestead tourism had been promoted in a big way rather than big hotels and motels. This directly benefits the locals, who too understand the importance of conservation of the environment as it has a direct bearing on their livelihood,” he added.

village in Tuni chakrataA village in Tuni/Chakrata area

The former Foreign Secretary said even the problem of pollution caused due to polythene could be effectively tackled with the support of local entrepreneurs. He added bringing in thousands of people without adequate infrastructure support was not a good idea.
Saran, who also held a coveted position as Prime Minister’s special envoy on climate change from 2007 to 2010, said the National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008 had stressed on sustaining the Himalayan ecology. He added it was the aim of the action plan to come up with guidelines for sustainable ecological development.

golu devata

Golu Devta Almora

On the Kedarnath catastrophe, he said emphasis must be on to create livelihood opportunities for the victims. This was important to give them a long-lasting solace and solution. He added what happened in Uttarakhand was not just the state’s tragedy but a challenge to the entire nation. He backed the creation of buffer zones in religions places in fragile ecological zones so that the movement of vehicles near these shrines could be banned.

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Village Chai Durga temple

He also underlined the need for creation of a knowledge pool to go to the causes of the Kedarnath type of disaster and come up with effective damage mitigation measures for future. He added experts from various platforms should come together and work to get better results.

WHAT TO DO
” Political consensus must to sustain Himalayan ecology
” Promote homestead tourism
” Tourism in hills should be people centric so that they, too, have a stake in environment conservation
” The creation of livelihood opportunities must be priority
” Create a knowledge pool to go for causes of a disaster and come up with appropriate mitigation measures

 

Tribune News Service