Disasters in Uttarakhand (Himalayas) – UPSC GS3

What are the reasons for climatic disaster in Uttarakhand?
The frequent disasters in Uttarakhand are not only caused by nature but also due to an indiscriminate increase in hydropower projects.
  • Uttarakhand mountain ecosystem faces various threats such as seismicity, dam-induced micro seismicity, landslides. For example, the entire State of Uttarakhand falls under Zone-IV and V of the earthquake risk map of India.
  • It is also prone to Flood disasters. Bursting of glacial lakes can cause flash floods with catastrophic consequences. For instance, moderate earthquakes in the Tehri dam caused the 2013 floods in Kedarnath.
  • Despite all these threats, the Uttarakhand government has indiscriminately pursued a greater number of hydropower projects. For example, the ongoing Tapovan power project.
  • Also, India has heavily invested in dam development and the growth of hydropower in the Himalayas’ region to cut carbon emissions.
  • For example, if the national plan to construct dams in 28 river valleys in the hills is completed, the Indian Himalayas will have one dam for every 32 km. (The highest density in the world).
  • Life of dams is often exaggerated without taking a proper account of the siltation level in the dams. For example, in the Bhakra dam in Himachal Pradesh, the siltation was higher by 140% than calculated.
These hydropower projects are incompatible with the local environment and ecology. They have increased the risk of disaster manifolds impacting the life and livelihood of millions of people.
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