From Nargis Natarajan, my coysin and close friend, living in Bhuvaneswar…a searing piece in which she shares her anguish.
The Himalayas are the youngest mountains in the world.
The native name of these infant ranges is ‘Sagarmath’, while its original name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘hima’ (snow) and ‘alaya’ (abode), thus translating to The Home of the Snow that NEVER melts.
The Himalayas are also known as The Third Pole because they have the largest deposit of Ice and Snow after Antarctica and Arctic. And because its glaciers carry billion tonnes of ice to nourish important perennial rivers across the world, it feeds nearly 20 per cent of the world’s population. Thus, it has a major role in regulating our planet’s climate.
Mount Kailash, which is considered the cosmic axis, the world pillar and the centre of the world where heaven meets earth, is also a pilgrimage site for four religions.
The major tourist spot Hrishikesh, is the gateway to several Himalayan mountain climbing expeditions, trekking trails and pilgrim centres.
The Himalayas are not only home to many medicinal plants, they also act as a strong defense barrier by saving our country from the cold and dry winds of Central Asia.
Now that we are familiar with all of the above heartwarming and established facts, here’s an ‘explosive’ one. When these loving and majestic mountains, are indirectly and senselessly targeted in the name of development, they can also turn into a massive, mountainous ticking time bomb.
We have already witnessed the flash floods in Chamoli and Kedarnath where thousands of people lost their lives. And yet, what are the lessons that were learnt? Nada. Zilch. Zero. When we already have an established eco system, why can’t we be satisfied and enjoy its benefits? Where is the need for endless tunnels and boundless projects that threaten our ecologically sensitive areas? Is it so difficult to understand that when you fragment any whole into tiny parts, we are not only sanctioning the extinction of all that is beneficial, we are also overturning the composition of an entire ecosystem.
The idea of a robust balance of nature; to presume that our ‘Mother’ will forgive all her greedy kids; that she will overcome all challenges and eventually restore herself to her former glory is anything but naïve. To rely on the notion that in the face of adversity she will ALWAYS maintain a perfect equilibrium, is a very comforting thought. But. There is only so much even a ‘Mother’ can take. As we continue to devastate habitats, overhunt, overfish, contaminate oceans and waterways and keep pumping harmful gases into the atmosphere, let us also prepare ourselves to be rapped on our knuckles whenever the situation gets too demanding.
The relationship between Man and Nature, between Mother and Child is a give and take bond. We cannot rely on our green ‘Mom’ to always protect her colourful wayward kids. She has enough work trying to replenish herself. To safeguard her, it is our turn to act. And act fast. In the movie ‘Lion King’, remember what Scar did to the Pride Lands? That’s what we’re doing to the world. Let us wake and wise up before it is too late!