Learn from Bhutan
With reference to the recent ghastly tragedy that occurred in Uttarakand we have a few important lessons to learn from the Bhutanese.
Geographically Bhutan is located to the northeast of Uttarakand and shares same kind of topography and weather pattern. It too has a very high risk of flooding but we don't hear much of this in this small nation. Let us see how they have tackled this. I visited Bhutan 4 years ago and these are the reasons why.
1. Restricted tourism and taking a certified guide is mandatory. By this the Bhutanese have managed to minimize the pressure on their fragile ecosystem. Guides help to streamline the trade and also create employment. There are hardly any haphazard sales kiosks and tourist related trade is strictly controlled.
2. Minimum deforestation. Probably Bhutanese Himalayas are the only remaining part of Himalayas where the original forests still exist. This naturally helps to prevent soil erosion and consequent flooding
3. Graded development. Theirs is a go slow approach.Television had just made its advent when I was there. There area few hydel projects in the making but they are well planned. Buildings are all planned and take into account the need to do.
4. Happiness more important that perceived prosperity. Bhutanese are fortunate in having a king who believes in making the people happy and the development efforts are designed to do this and not towards making them rich. The guide who escorted around was a typical example. Educated, fun loving, urbane, steeped in Buddhism and contented.
4. No litter. Man made litter clogs the environment as we can see everywhere in Uttarakand. This is not so in Bhutan.
Will our politicos wake up before another disaster strikes us?