The following is a guest blog written by Jason Mcmanus:
The Himalayan ecosystem is one of the richest ecosystems in the world. The Himalayan ranges are one of the youngest yet largest mountain ranges in the world. However, though the ranges are spread over thousands of kilometres and are incredibly vast, they have a very delicate ecosystem which are highly vulnerable to any disturbances – whether man-made or natural.
The magnificent biodiversity of the region has been very delicately balanced over thousands of years. Though natural disturbances do create environmental problems, the scale of the aberration is very small compared to the recent increase in activities by mankind which are detrimental to the environment.
India and China
The Himalayan ranges divide the two most populous countries of the world – India and China. These countries have economies that are growing rapidly and whose economies are undergoing a shift from a dominant agrarian economy to a dominant industrial economy. These two countries have large requirements of power and the large networks of rivers that originate in the Himalayan ranges offer a very viable power generation option.
Moreover, India and China are involved in a constant race to achieve military domination in the region and thus, mainly for the movement of troops, an intricate network of roads and railway lines is being constructed by both countries. China has been the more ruthless of the two; for China has been destroying the ecosystem of the Himalayan ranges on its side of the border at a furious pace. The lethargic bureaucracy in India has caused the construction of infrastructure in the region to be a lot slower as compared to China, but the disregard for the environment is also evident here.
Thoughtless Development and Growth the biggest Contributor
The main reason behind the ongoing slaughter of the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan ecosystem is clear – it is the rapid construction of infrastructure like roads, railway lines, small towns and dams. The construction projects involve a large number of personnel to be accommodated at the site.
It is obvious that wherever human presence shows itself, the region suffers from some sort of environmental degradation. This is quite true when it comes to the Himalayas. In addition to the human presence, the debris from the construction and other wastes are just dumped either in the water bodies or are just left somewhere near the site to save a somewhat negligible amount of money.
The hydroelectric projects create the most profound environmental problems in the Himalayas. Countless trees are felled to make way for the huge dams. The rivers are diverted causing inconceivable loss not only to the marine life but also to the plants and animals dependent on the water. Dams cause the water levels in the rivers to reduce drastically and this has been evident at the Tehri dam project on the Bhagirathi river (2005) which has caused the water levels in the river Ganga to fall.
More People Need to Speak Out About Environmental Problems in the Himalaya
These environmental problems are taken very lightly by the officials in both the countries. Only a handful of activists voice their protests and the government remains apathetic about the issue. Though laws exist that grant protection to the environment, they are being disregarded blatantly and no one seems to be noticing this. With this kind of attitude of the national governments of both these countries, the rich and diverse ecosystem of the Himalayas shall be just a short story in the history books of the future.
Environmental problems are apparent everywhere you look around the Globe, they are hurtling out of control, but we have to make a shift and look at the real cause of the problems which is us humans ourselves, before it is too late. I recently read an article titled ‘How to Save the World‘ and it certainly got me thinking.