Need fewer roads in hills, make more ropeways in U’khand: Sunderlal Bahuguna | assembly-elections | Hindustan Times
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Need fewer roads in hills, make more ropeways in U’khand: Sunderlal Bahuguna

In the last few years, hills had paid in the name of development. But enough is enough. I am against making roads by blasting mountains to construct new roads or widening existing one. Blasting develops cracks and ultimately leads to sliding.

assembly elections Updated: Jan 14, 2017 09:38 IST
Sunderlal Bahuguna was a prominent face of the Chipko movement, which started  in the 70s sto safeguard trees in the hills of Uttarakhand, then part of Uttar Pradesh.
Sunderlal Bahuguna was a prominent face of the Chipko movement, which started in the 70s sto safeguard trees in the hills of Uttarakhand, then part of Uttar Pradesh.(HT Photo)

I had spent productive years of my life raising voice for environment issues and this remains close to my heart.

I always opposed construction of huge dams such as Tehri in Uttarakhand because it serves no purpose to the locals and cause enormous loss to ecology. See, we have adequate water in Ganga river basin but locals have little or no access to water. Between I understand we need electricity to bring change in the life of highlanders.

I would like to suggest new government to focus on three points – generate electricity from small run of the river hydro power projects, make arrangements to lift water from rivers and find a solution to replace pine trees with broad leaf trees that can restore water and bear fruits. Pine works as a catalyst for the fire that takes toll of the thousands of acres of forest every year. Pine was introduced by Britons and now needs to be rooted out.

In the last few years, hills had paid in the name of development. But enough is enough. I am against making roads by blasting mountains to construct new roads or widening existing one. Blasting develops cracks and ultimately leads to sliding. There should be fewer roads in hills and air and ropeway connectivity should be enhanced. I fear that recent announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to construct all-weather roads for pilgrimage circuit in Garhwal region could hurt fragile ecology of the region.

Locals play a crucial role in restoring an environment and it is important to ensure that they remain connected with their roots. Remember Chipko movement of early 70’s. It was hard working women who came forward to save the forest from notorious timber mafia. The government should work for making a change in the ‘land use’ pattern in a bid to give rights on the resources to natives.

The successive governments have tweaked policies for their interest. Take the case of liquor. No government can sustain or guarantee public welfare if it fills it coffers with the revenue earned by selling liquor. I was told state earns some R 1500-1600 crores annually from liquor. Why we need it? Can’t we look out for other options for revenue? Liquor has become big menace, particularly in the hills. I am for a complete prohibition on liquor. We had experienced a positive side of liquor prohibition in hills when we were part of parent state – Uttar Pradesh. Now it is the right time to introduce prohibition, this time in Uttarakhand.

(As told to Anupam Trivedi)