Have our souls taken wing?
T he vision of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) headed by the Prime Minister of India is to build a safer and disaster resilient India by developing a holistic, pro-active, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for disaster management through collective efforts of all government agencies and non-governmental organisations. Then, why this lack of sensitivity from the government on the Uttarakhand disaster? The rhetoric for elections however continues without any tangible reaction for people who have lost their loved ones or suffered, or for the local people who will face absolute devastation.
’s second issue of April carried an Editorial on… In India, in the name of sustainable tourism we are blindly going into rapid growth mode-building hotels all along river banks, forests, sea shores, deserts… bringing about a widespread commercial adoption of ‘sustainable development’. We must have the foresight to boost our tourism potential but in a genuinely sustainable manner, protecting our natural and cultural assets...
With failing agriculture in Uttarakhand due to soil erosion and faulty irrigation and an average land holding of fragmented 1-2 ha, people are turning to tourism. The state has a total population of 1 crore but 2.5 crore tourists visit the state, and that too mostly in the summer months. To accommodate these tourists and service them, hotels, restaurants, shops and even malls are being built on crumbling roadsides and riverbeds while authorities turn a blind eye.
Are we, as an industry, finally going to put a disaster management plan in place, which is owned by a team that visits and upgrades it regularly? We have had the tsunami catastrophe in the South of India (what did we learn from it?), and now this tragedy in the North. Domestic and Pilgrimage Tourism (in the North) will be hit hard for 2-3 years. Natural calamities occur everywhere… Let us be prepared - not just for ourselves but also to give back to the society we earn our living from!