Must see before they vanish or contribute towards their existence by staying away?
Its ironical, we get to read about the tragedy of vanishing biological treasures in India but at the same time also come across promotions of the same places as tourist spots – A catch-22 kind of situation.
Since early childhood I have this desire to see whole of India. The country has amazingly diverse geography and climate, varied flora and fauna, but slowly the number of species falling under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened Species is increasing – owing to rampant unsustainable exploitation of nature.
I do wish to visit all these wonderful places at least once in my lifetime, before they vanish and become a part of history. But more than the desire to see them, I also wish for continued existence of these places. These places suffer the extreme human interventions, the population density in India is really high, and then you add the number of tourist visiting these specific places from across India and the world. Most of the people who visit these places as tourist are at times culprits of destroying these places – doing more damage to these places than the local inhabitants who have no where else go. The economic interests of locals are get linked with inflow of tourist’s making tourism a necessary evil for their survival.
These places were there even before humans, decided to make them a part of our habitat. As we kept growing exponentially like a virus, we kept exploiting all the available resources for our survival, causing irreparable damages to the nature. By encroaching upon the nature, we are putting a lot of pressure on the ecology of these places. Irresponsible Tourism threatens existence of these natural wonders. Increasing tourism enhancing he commercial value of these places, attract business to invest more and even outsiders to set-up their shops. Focusing more revenue enhancements, at times they fail to understand that their actions are slowly killing the golden goose.
Increased population density results in concrete jungle replacing the natural one – new hotels, shops, parking lots, bigger houses for locals as their earnings increase, contribute towards this. Natural resource start getting depleted swiftly, as the population increases so does rampant consumption and wastage starts playing havoc with local ecology.
Neither the tourists nor the locals – who enjoys the benefit of these developments, fully understand the harm they are causing to the nature. If the administration is efficient and far sighted, they will try to monitor the situation and take steps keeping the long term perspective in mind, otherwise, as is the case with most of the tourist places in India currently, they will just join the loot. Corruption leads to utter destruction of environment. This precisely was the reasons for recent disaster which stuck Uttarakhand, India where flash flood killed thousands of people at Kedarnath. When we start taking nature for granted, one day it is bound to unleash its fury and then we are left with nothing but pain and guilt.
So in this series, I will try to cover some of the places in India which are worth seeing at least once in a lifetime, with a request to try and be an environmentally aware tourist. Enjoy the beauty of nature, but lets try and reduce our negative impact on it. Here is the first part of the series starting with the Eastern India.
- Majuli Island, Assam (North Eastern India): The largest river island of the world is shrinking slowly.
What Makes it Special?
- Year by Year, this largest river island of the world is shrinking and may totally submerge in water one day. Mājuli, a wetland, is a hotspot for flora and fauna, harboring many rare and endangered bird species including migratory birds that arrive in the winter season. Among the birds seen here are: the Greater Adjutant Stork, Pelican, Siberian Crane and the Whistling Teal. After dark wild geese and ducks fly in flocks to distant destinations. The island is almost pollution free owing to the lack of polluting industries and factories and also the chronic rainfall.
The Looming Danger
- The islands are under threat due to the extensive soil erosion on its banks caused by floods. In 1853, the total area of Mājuli was 1,150 km² and about 33% of this landmass has been eroded in the latter half of 20th century. Since 1991, over 35 villages have been washed away. Surveys show that in 15–20 years from now, Mājuli would cease to exist.
The Potential Loss
- Hundreds of migratory birds, which populate this island in Assam during winter, such as Pelicans, Siberian Cranes and Adjutant Strokes.
Note : Jayde-Ashe Thomas has taken up a wonderful project of publishing a monthly online magazine The Paper Book Collective (read it a issuu.com (http://issuu.com/jaydeashe/docs/the_paperbook_collective_issue_one2) where this series of my articles is originally getting published.
- The Paperbook Collective ~ Issue One 2013. (jaydeashe.wordpress.com)
- Govt yet to make stand clear on Majuli revised dossier (assamtribune.com)
- Vanishing Migratory Birds of India: The Alarming Problems (ecosysblogs.wordpress.com)
- More areas flooded in Assam as rivers rise (vancouverdesi.com)
- Of Rivers and River-Islands (northeastreview.com)
- Monsoon fury in India: Uttarakhand, Assam, Himachal, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh devastated by floods (dnaindia.com)
- Assam flood displaces 94 families (dnaindia.com)
- The Paperbook Collective: Issue #1 (thebookboozer.wordpress.com)
- The Paperbook Collective ~ Issue One 2013. (perceptivepotcluelesskettle.wordpress.com)
- The Paperbook Collective ~ Issue One 2013. (annelongmire.wordpress.com)