‘Mountain man’ Dr Anil Joshi: “There should be no aggressive development projects in the hills”


Dr Anil Joshi, Himalayan ecology
Dr Anil Joshi heads a socio-scientific organisation called Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conversation Organization (HESCO).

“The pace of the Char Dham road project must be reduced to four kilometres a month from the present 40 kms a month. That is the only way to preserve the ecology of the region.” That was one of the many policy and governance issues recommended by Dehradun-based Dr Anil P Joshi in an exclusive interview with Citizen Matters in the wake of the land subsidence incident in Joshimath. Which, Dr Joshi emphasised, is very different from land slips, which are a completely different phenomenon.

The interview covered a range of issues and recommendations for preserving the fragile Himalayan ecology. Like avoiding aggressive development, such as big hydro power and road projects, strong involvement of local communities in all development planning, the need for a scientific approach to planning based on studies and local knowledge.

Joshimatch. Car covered by ecent heavy snowfall in Joshimath
A snow covered car in Joshimath with slogan “NTPC go back”, a reference to the hydro project being built nearby which people of Joshimatch say is responsible for the soil subsidence and damage to their homes.

And to preserve the livelihood of the hill top villages by adopting what he described as “cluster approach by clubbing a group of villages and settlements, providing them with proper civic amenities and encouraging their traditional livelihoods with modern agriculture and horticulture practices unique to that area”.

Read more: Char Dham highway project will only add to urban woes

Regulating tourism, says Dr Joshi, is necessary given that the hill towns have already “exceeded their carrying capacity”. Among measures that the government can consider were “extending the months when the state’s major shrines can be open and also by initiating measures that would keep the numbers manageable.”

Watch the entire interview here:

Dr Joshi has been working for four decades on ecology inclusive economic issues, especially in preserving the ecology of the Himalayan. He heads a socio-scientific organisation called Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conversation Organization (HESCO).

Dr Anil Joshi has been known as the “mountain man” for his work on ecological issues in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in particular. Regarding Joshimath in particular, he admitted that the coming monsoon season could pose severe problems for the area.

After quitting his job as Reader in the Government P.G College, Dr Joshi’s emphasis has been on local resource-based rural development and community empowerment, particularly mountain regions. Like persuading local shrines to promote offerings made of local crops to address forward and backward linkage.

He motivated various shrines, especially Vaishno Devi, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, Gangotri, where offerings (Prasad) made from local grains promoting local crops and economy.

Dr Joshi’s advice to the frightened people of Joshimath: “Governments will come and go. But we are the local people. We understand our ecosystem and so should not aspire beyond the limit of nature”.

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About T R Gopalakrishnan 17 Articles
T R Gopalakrishnan was Consulting Editor at Citizen Matters. Former Editor In Charge of The Week, the country’s leading English weekly newsmagazine, based in Cochin, relocated to Bangalore in 2018. Born and brought up in Delhi, took a brief stab at engineering at the IIT, Kanpur, but switched to journalism in 1974. As Editor of The Week, was part of the Prime Minister’s media delegation when Atal Behari Vajpayee visited South Africa and Beijing. Was also a special invitee of the South African government prior to their staging their world cup. Was part of a media delegation from developing countries to the US as a special invitee. While at The Week, besides organising the news desk and setting up work systems for ideation and implementation, also did a number of detailed cover stories on a wide range of subjects, business, politics, sports, science and cinema. Main interests are reading and travel.