Thursday, June 20, 2013

One lakh victims of pilgrimage tourism

What is happening in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, especially along the Badrinath and Kedarnath temple routes, where most of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims got trapped are feared killed or injured, points towards the role of pilgrimage tourism promoted by  the tourism and real estate mafia with the active co-operation of the ruling establishment and religious leaders in the destruction of ecology on a vast scale. It led to even natural calamities turning in to human catastrophes causing enormous loss of life and immense destruction of property. As every religion is becoming increasingly fundamentalist and evangelical, as a part of creating religious frenzy among the masses pilgrimage is promoted immensely. It is happening in every country. In India with the growth of Hindutua forces there is a competition among religious and sub-religious groups for promoting centres of pilgrimage. In their frenzy new centres of pilgrimage are created. What has happened to the traditional pilgrimage centres where people used to go on foot without causing any environmental destruction gave way to millions going using most modern vehicles and staying in posh resorts. For this huge infra structural development was taken up by the real estate mafia with corporate and state help. The religious and sub-religious groups encouraged this. VHP like organizations collected millions by recruiting and deploying volunteers for this. The whole pilgrimage is turned in to another industry called pilgrimage tourism. So along with the real estate-contractor mafia and the ruling establishment, the RSS Parivar responsible for turning the pilgrimage centres in Uttarakhand and other Himalayan shrines death traps for millions of innocent people who are turned in to blind devotees.

Mostly Man-made Calamity in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh

The political leaderships leading the administration in the country and the bureaucracy which is running it cannot escape by saying that the rainfall was unprecedented and so the terrific damage to people and property is taking place. The central and state governments or the bureaucracy or the vested interests including the RSS outfits like the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) cannot claim that the calamity faced by millions of people in the region and the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to the Himalayan temples was not foretold. More than three decades ago during the Chipco Movement the catastrophe going to take place if the frantic forest destruction, quarrying , road constructions to numerous temples coming up along the route to Badrinath and Kedarnath, mad race for real estate expansion and numerous other acts intensifying ecological destruction were not stopped and if a new approach to developmental works in the fragile Himalayan region in particular and to development perspective in general was not taken. Nobody in the administration, leaders of ruling class parties, all those supervising the development paradigm of the ruling system and the Hindutua leaders bothered. They went ahead merrily causing more ecological destruction in spite of the floods and huge destruction during the last five years. The materiological and other departments responsible for fore-warning the heavy rain were found much wanting when their services were required badly. All these factors together led to the unprecedented calamity we are witnessing today in this vast region. The millions of people suffering including the many thousands who have lost their lives and injured are victims of the mostly man made ecological catastrophe. Even the unprecedented and before-time rain fall like other climate changes are mostly linked to global warming like factors created by ecological destruction. Still the government leaders and others responsible for this catastrophe are trying to put the entire blame over the vagaries of nature and wash their hands of this real massacre of human lives and environment. While extending our sorrow and condolences to all those who are suffering under this catastrophe, let us raise our fingers against all those who are responsible for creating this catastrophe not only in this region but also in areas like Delhi where thousands of crores were spent for Yamuna river training and still millions are suffering.