ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Climate Change, Uttarakhand, and the World Bank's Message

The devastation in Uttarakhand in June 2013 showed that some of the effects of climate change are already upon us. It ought to serve as a wake-up call to desist from a development model that upsets fragile ecosystems on a large scale and impoverishes people who are already highly vulnerable to a wide range of social and economic problems. This article points out that we need to heed the consequences of climate change projected in a new report by the World Bank and think of viable ways to tackle the challenge ahead.

The Uttarakhand disaster left a trail of death and devastation in its wake. The state government claims that 557 people died, but the death toll could be as high as 15,000. Tourism is one of the important sources of income and employment in the affected areas. Local residents tell of village after village in the Mandakini valley below Kedarnath where boys and men have not yet returned home. One village near Guptkashi counts 78 missing. Several thousand Char Dham valley families are now set to fall below the poverty line. That the newly unemployed lack alternative sources of employment is a grave problem till the yatras begin again (Chopra 2013).

The events in Uttarakhand during June 2013 left us all stunned. Some observers have commented that it was an expression of the wrath of nature at the disruption caused to a natural ecosystem by accelerated infrastructure development. There is a grain of truth in this. We need to understand this while the horror of the situation is still upon us, lest we forget and go back to our usual short-sighted ways once the immediate crisis has passed.

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