Himalayan Fragility & Ongoing Challenges

  Sep 07, 2023

Fragility of the Himalayas and Ongoing Challenges

1. What is the current situation in the Himalayas during the monsoon season?

There have been devastating landslides in Himachal Pradesh during the ongoing monsoon season, leading to extensive damage to roads and infrastructure. Several areas, including national highways, have been badly affected, causing estimated losses of over Rs 10,000 crore.

2. What are the primary causes of landslides in the Himalayan region?

Landslides are triggered by heavy monsoon rainfall, seismic activity, and anthropogenic factors. The geological framework of the Himalayan mountain system, including tectonic activity and geological faults, contributes to the susceptibility of the region to landslides.

3. How did the collision between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates shape the Himalayas?

Around 60 million years ago, the collision between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates formed the Himalayan mountain system. This collision led to folding, faulting, and thrusting, making the region unstable and prone to landslides.

4. What are thrust faults, and why do they contribute to landslides?

Thrust faults are geological features where older rock layers are pushed over younger ones along tectonic lines. This process can reverse the sequence of rock layers and increase the likelihood of landslides in the mountain system.

5. How have human activities contributed to the fragility of the Himalayas?

Human activities such as construction of roads, buildings, and infrastructure have disrupted natural drainage patterns, destabilized slopes, and triggered erosion. Overloading of hills, cutting slopes, and improper land use have further exacerbated the vulnerability to landslides.

6. What is the importance of conducting geological investigations and soil surveys in the Himalayan region?

Geological investigations and soil surveys are crucial for assessing the stability of slopes, understanding potential landslide risks, and implementing effective engineering practices to mitigate the impact of landslides.

7. How can technology, such as ISRO satellites with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data, aid in disaster assessment?

SAR data from ISRO satellites can be used for remote sensing to assess geological movements and potential landslide-prone areas. This technology can provide valuable insights for disaster preparedness and response.

8. What is the concept of "carrying capacity" in the context of the Himalayan region?

The carrying capacity refers to the maximum level of human activity and development that an area can sustain without causing deterioration to its physical, economic, and social environment. This concept is closely linked to sustainable development and disaster prevention.

9. How does climate change impact the carrying capacity of the Himalayas?

Climate change, including global warming and extreme weather events, has a significant impact on the Himalayan region. Overstretching the carrying capacity due to unplanned development exacerbates the effects of climate change, leading to disasters like flash floods and landslides.

10. What is the proposed approach to making the Himalayas disaster-resilient?

The proposed approach involves revisiting the current development model in the Himalayan region to prioritize climate-resilient and sustainable practices. A focus on environmental aspects, careful planning of developmental activities, and adherence to regulations are vital steps.

11. How can a study on carrying capacity benefit the Himalayan region?

A study on carrying capacity can provide evidence-based insights for policymaking, disaster prevention, and preparedness. It can help assess the impact of tourism, infrastructure development, and climate change on the region's stability.

12. What is the role of government agencies and regulations in ensuring disaster-resilient development?

Government agencies should enforce strict regulations for construction, land use, and infrastructure development in the Himalayan region. Environmental impact assessments and adherence to standard operating procedures are essential to reduce the risk of disasters.

13. How can traditional architecture and ecological principles contribute to disaster resilience?

Traditional architecture and ecological principles can guide sustainable development and construction practices that respect the natural environment. Integrating traditional designs with modern ones can help create resilient structures.

14. How can individuals contribute to preserving the Himalayan ecosystem and preventing disasters?

Individuals can promote responsible tourism, support sustainable development practices, and raise awareness about the importance of preserving the fragile Himalayan ecosystem. Respecting nature and adopting eco-friendly behaviors are essential.

15. What is the significance of the proposed panel of experts to assess carrying capacity in the Himalayan region?

The proposed panel of experts aims to analyze the carrying capacity of the Himalayan region and provide recommendations for sustainable development. This initiative is crucial for preventing future disasters and ensuring the well-being of residents and tourists.
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