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Development in the Indian Himalayan Region UPSC NOTE


  • In view of some of the recent judgments of the Supreme Court of India, we seem to be headed towards a more robust rights-based regime where sustainable development would be a fundamental right

  • The tone and tenor of the Court’s judgments highlighting the competing rights of people and nature are a clear sign of the direction in which the development versus environment debate in India is headed

  • In State of Telangana and Others vs Mohd. Abdul Qasim Per Lrs, the Court had said that the need of the hour is to adopt an ecocentric view of the environment, where nature is at the core

  • According to this approach, nature is not an object of protection but a subject with fundamental rights, such as the right to exist, to survive, and to persist and regenerate vital cycles. 

  • The current development model being pursued in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) is in total contravention of this approach

  • We are witnessing a ‘bumper crop’ of hydroelectric power stations on the rivers and streams in the IHR, without any care for the rights of these rivers and streams

  • There is a reckless widening of existing hill roads to four lanes in the name of development 

  • A post-disaster need assessment report by the National Disaster Management Authority on the floods in 2023 in Himachal Pradesh identified, unsurprisingly, rampant construction in violation of norms, regulations (and even court orders in many cases) right on river beds and flood plains, on the steep slopes, in seismic zones, in landslide-prone areas and the loss of green cover as the reasons for the disaster

  • The Teesta dam breach in Sikkim and the monsoon floods and landslides in Himachal Pradesh — both events in 2023 — are a stark reminder of the havoc our development model is causing to the environment, ecology and communities, especially in the mountains.

  • It is a given that unless infrastructure is sustainable and dependable, it cannot become the foundation for people’s pursuit of their developmental goals

  • Sustainability of infrastructure necessarily means that it is resilient to the adverse impacts of climate change and consequent disasters

  • This is essential to ensure equality, equity and equal access to people, to various opportunities all across the country — as is the mandate of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution

  • Disasters are also known to amplify social inequality as the poor are the worst hit and the most inadequately equipped to deal with the consequences

  • To pursue a path of sustainable development can also be said to be a fundamental right, as a natural corollary or an integral part or a subset of the right to be free from the adverse impacts of climate change. The state must honour this. 

Need for a sustainable development model that balances human needs with environmental protection

  • While there is no denying that as we are a lower-middle income country with a large and young population, rapid development is India’s destiny

  • The interconnection between disasters and unregulated development has become increasingly pronounced and visible. 

  • The only way forward is for disaster management to be incorporated in development planning, both from a perspective of prevention and resilience

  • Our actions in the name of development, in total disregard of nature in most cases, is to be blamed for these unnatural disasters resulting from natural hazards

  • The development plans, policies and laws that underpin them too play a pivotal role in the making of these disasters

  • There is an urgent need for planning stage convergence of different authorities so that when there is a plan for any development, all concerns about disaster and climate resilience are also factored in, and the project reaches implementation stage only after the green signal in these areas. 

  • We need both development and disaster resilience

  • We also need science, policy and action to be in conformity with each other, in an integrated approach with the involvement of all including policymakers, planners, the scientific fraternity and communities.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Development in the Indian Himalayan Region UPSC NOTE
Development in the Indian Himalayan Region UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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