Nature's fury

Published: Wednesday 30 September 1998

Relief workers carry a victim< (Credit: Dharchula /HT)RAMPANT deforestation by the timber mafia, poor mapping systems and inadequate maintenance of roads in the region may be the reason for recent landslides in the hills of Uttar Pradesh. People familiar with the region's ecology say that landslides are the result of years of indiscriminate deforestation in the Himalaya. Landslides have killed about 200 people in the monsoon this year.

In recent times, there has been massive deforestation in the Himalaya, which can not be ignored in the recent episode of landslides in Malpa. According to Gautam Kaul, director general of Indo-Tibetan Boarder Police, those areas which were covered by forests a decade ago are now barren.

"There has been large-scale felling of precious trees in the region by the timber mafia. The mafia have always remained very low-profile so their role has never been really taken as a factor, but their shadow operations have been responsible for depriving the villagers in the hills of even their supply of firewood," says Sudarshan Sah, an environmental activist.

People in the area have been campaigning for protection of the environment. But because officials turn a blind eye to warning, a tragedy of such a magnitude has occurred, he says.

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