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Vanishing Wisdom

Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 05, Dated February 06, 2010

Across Uttarakhand, traditional systems do the disappearing act, reports AMITANGSHU ACHARYA

SITTING ON the mud porch of his house in Uttarakhand, 80-yearold Maulya Singh looks stoically at the burnt stumps of pine a few metres away and talks philosophically of the land drying up. His daughter-in-law is, however, more concerned about the practicalities. As most springs in the village are dry, she is forced to trudge farther and farther afield to get drinking water. Maulya Singh interrupts, “If there are no chaals, where will the water in the springs come from?”

IN THE year gone by, Uttarakhand reeled under the impact of a climate gone awry. The rain required for the main crop, wheat, was 90 percent less than normal. Average temperatures in summer had soared to the highest in 39 years. The temperatures in turn lead to severe forest fires which charred 2,426 hectares of forest. In the Garhwal region, there were 665 forest fires. [more]