Four Problems Plaguing the Hill Stations

Why everything is not hunky-dory in the peaceful retreats?

  Heedless tourism accentuated by social media popularity constant vouching for mountain aesthetics has taken a toll on the fragile ecology of hill stations. The intensity of damage has threatened livelihood of locals for a majority of whom tourism is the sole means of earning a living. Mass Deforestation to Support Tourists and Recreation  Unplanned urban development to support the flock of tourists even to the remotest fringes of mountain regions has called for precarious felling of trees. Deforestation has subsequently resulted in loss of greenery, soil erosion and barren land eventually leading to landslides. Besides residences, hotels and other commercial establishments springing up, a series of hydro projects and infrastructure development is being executed. The chunk of drilling into the soil has thereby threatened the structural integrity of ranges. Catastrophic Landslide on a Mercurial Rise The series of anthropogenic activities—construction of roads, deforestation, shifts in agricultural patterns, boom in settlements etc., to make the hills accessible to tourists have culminated in a series of fatal landslides choking the area and resulting in massive losses. Over the years, funds to accelerate the hydropower projects worsened the occurrences of landslides. For locals who traverse the hilly regions to eke a living, landslides are a tremendous blow to their earning. The accidences disrupt the route to workspaces, hospitals, educational institutes and even access to basic amenities such as water, timber, fish and agricultural produces. Deafening Cloudbursts that Rage in Wrath The frequency of cloudbursts has been directly linked to climate change; Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal in India have witnessed perhaps the most devastating impacts of cloudbursts. Combined with climate change and a damaged ecology, cloudbursts have wreaked havoc on locals by damaging properties, triggering flash floods, uprooting trees, mutilating farmlands before eventually leading to soil erosion. Flora and fauna are distinctively mutilated which again adversely impacts tourism in these regions. In severe cases, entire villages have drowned in the aftermath. Mournful Loss of Mountain Biodiversity Thinning forest cover and climate crises have threatened wildlife, resulting in extinction and endangerment of species. The loss has affected the food chain. Biodiversity hotspots are distorted by burgeoning human habitats and changing micro-climatic and ecological conditions. Mountain tourism needs to eradicate unsustainable practices in a way that does not meddle with the revenue that local people earn via tourism and hospitality. Tourists should be more cognizant of the vulnerability of mountain regions and abide by environmentally-sustainable practices to thwart off an imminent collapse.