Editorial Input: Lulua Ahsan
Global warming is becoming an increasingly serious threat to our planet. In the name of progress and development, man has played with mother nature since the dawn of time. Now, nature has started retaliating and the consequences are inevitable.
Joshimath, a small town located in Uttarakhand region of Himalayas has recently been in news. Joshimath is sinking and experts say it cannot be stopped. Hundreds of people have been evacuated since the beginning of the year as cracks appeared on the roads and houses making the whole area risky for the people to live. Several houses and a temple collapsed in Singhdhar area of Joshimath. The reason cited for the sinking of the area is rampant and rapid construction in an eco-sensitive zone.
Like Joshimath, the city of Udaipur is also surrounded by the Aravalli mountain range. Udaipur being a very popular tourist destination, is going through a similar uncontrolled construction in the name of development.
In the past, large areas of Udaipur's Rajsamand and southern part of Mewar were destroyed by reckless marble and soapstone mining. In the rush for modernization, the surrounding hills are being cut down to construct hotels and resorts, mines and industries which is having a significant negative impact on the ecosystem. This clearly demonstrates how the government and government agencies are disregarding nature for the sake of tourism and development. Are we waiting for a disaster like Joshimath to wake us up from our slumber?
Unquestionably, Udaipur has experienced a substantial increase in tourists after the pandemic. Since there are more tourist vehicles than local vehicles, the city's traffic has also risen. The city's capacity and existing facilities are not taken into account in the rush to promote tourism and various projects are being introduced in the name of development.
One such ropeway project has just begun in the vicinity of the well-known Neemach Mata temple, which is perched on a hill in the Dewali area of Udaipur. This is the city's second ropeway; the first is operating at the Karni Mata temple situated in the southern part of the walled city. It was constructed as a tourist destination to promote tourism. Karni Mata Ropeway is a live example of how the ropeway project has caused destruction to the surrounding ecosystem and has increased the garbage and plastic waste left behind by the tourists.
The Neemach Mata Ropeway is being constructed on the hill close to the famous Fatehsagar Lake. The visitors would have easy access to the spectacular bird’s eye view of the lake making it one of the top tourist spots. Many social workers and environment enthusiasts have objected to this project.
Environment lover and social worker Shanti Lal Mehta also filed a PIL to stop this project but no cognizance was taken by the court.
The big question is, should a place of religious importance be converted into a tourist spot?
The activities happening at the tourist spots will not only hurt the environment but also the faith of the people. Just as Sammed Shikhar was prevented from becoming a tourist spot recently by the efforts of the Jain community, the people of Udaipur will also have to come forward to save the natural beauty of Neemach Mata hill.
Area surrounding the Neemach Mata hill comes under the forest department as a protected wildlife area. The area is a biodiverse region, home to several native wildlife species and plants. Will the ropeway and tourism not destroy the delicate ecosystem? On one hand, the forest department advocates Vriksharopan (plantation) and on the other hand it is tight-lipped on this new ropeway project which is going to destroy the flora and fauna of the entire area. Why?
Tourism in this area will also increase the garbage and waste adding to the woes.
The foothill of Neemach Mata is home to almost 1000 people. It also has a local school. Will the new tourism project not destroy the peace and tranquility of the residents of this area?
Udaipur Times has started this campaign to know the opinion of the people of Udaipur on the Neemach Mata Ropeway Project. We, the team of UdaipurTimes, request our readers to come forward and participate in this survey.