Your Voice Can Save the Ecologically sensitive forests of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
Monsoon season is here and our social media feed, news channels are flooded with the news of floods and destruction in the Himalayan region. Landslides, slipping of rocks, cloud bursts are a grim reminder of the extreme vulnerability of Uttarakhand to natural disasters. Despite the fragile conditions, projects having serious ecological and social impact are not stopping in the state.
Locals are protesting against the work that has now started to build a helipad at the Hemkund Sahib, which is about 4,632.96 m (15,200.00 ft) above sea level. Located in Altakudi, the area is in the buffer zone of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, a world heritage site. The helipad at the Hemkund Shahab is the third in this area – there is one at Govind Ghat 5,997 ft, and another at Ghangaria (3,049 m).
An ecologically sensitive area
The area identified for making the helipad is where the blue poppy and flower Brahma Kamal grows.
This is where other than pilgrims, thousands of bird watchers, researchers, and nature lovers visit every year. It is home to some of the rare and endangered animals, including the Himalayan snow leopard, Asiatic black bear, brown bear and blue sheep.
The gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park. Together they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya, praised by mountaineers and botanists for over a century and in Hindu mythology for much longer.
Why is it dangerous?
Such projects where heavy machinery has been extensively used to tame the Himalayan terrain have repeatedly shown its impact in different ways — landslides, avalanches, flash floods, and cloud bursts.
Environmentalists say even the sound of helicopters would disturb the ecology, nesting, hatching, and mating processes, affecting the regeneration of the flora and fauna.
A ropeway service already exists for people to reach Hemkund Sahib, activists are questioning the need for a helipad. According to them, plying of choppers to ferry pilgrims would disturb pilgrims and harm the extremely sensitive topography of the region at 13,500 ft.
Sign the petition and join us in demanding the chief minister’s office of Uttarakhand to take notice of this disastrous project immediately and stop its construction.