By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer
Climate Change is no longer just a looming threat: destructive fangs bared, its hot breath is stirring the ocean with life-threatening force. According to marine scientists, the Arabian Sea, which has always had a temperature below 28 degrees Celsius, is warming up faster due to climate change. Experts also say that the Arabian Sea is churning out more cyclones and pushing higher amounts of moisture into the atmosphere.
The oceans are the greatest creators of global climate and so their influence directly impacts on us in the Himalayas. When they get warmer then so do we. There are two ways of reacting to this. We can either throw up our hands in anguish and say “Que sera, sera: whatever will be, will be!” Or we can dance in delight and exclaim “Wow. That’s great, what an opportunity!” The hotter it gets in the plains the more tourists will flock to our hill stations. But our existing mountain resorts are over-crowded so we cannot push in more people without making our hill stations into Hill Slums. The obvious solution is to open more mountain resorts. But we must be careful to make them client-specific. Sadly, our netas are still stuck in an antique warp. They believe in footfalls: but tourism is a business activity, not a political road show or ego-massaging rent-a-crowd rally. So, to make the best of our cool green heights, here is what we must do.
- Stop all attempts by ambitious, rent seeking netas from tapping our arduously acquired Yamuna water. This scheme originated in our minds and was nurtured by us because one of us is a member of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee. Various netas either proposed other schemes, which were impractical, or were indifferent to the Yamuna Scheme. If they try to divert our water they must be exposed as anti-Mussoorie or as greedy politicians who put their financial interests above those of their Mussoorie voters. This is our water and we need every drop of it.
- More water is used by guests in hotels than they do at home. This must be controlled. Guests must be allowed a daily water allowance free and must pay for water used in excess of this. There will be resistence at first but if the rule is enforced by all establishments and given an appealing name like Water Saving Cess it will become acceptable.
3. There have been virtually no new Himalayan resorts created after Independence.
Due to Climate Change, the higher altitudes are getting warmer making them suitable for tourist accommodation. New resorts should be developed catering to specific needs: adventure, health, Senior Citizens, and the virtually unlimited range of highly specialised hobbyists’ subjects ranging from Tibetan Mysticism through Astrophysics to Gastronomy. The opening of such new Resorts will not only increase employment opportunities in our state but will strengthen the security of our endangered border areas.
Which brings us to a topic of fundamental importance to the development of our high altitude areas – transportation to and around our seemingly remote regions. The traditional Mule Trains served us well but they cannot meet today’s needs. Sadly, many of our road builders have developed their techniques in the lowlands, the plains. They treat our mountains with a brutal Gouge, Bash, Blast and Bulldoze callousness. Little landslides which need the tender, loving care of slim drainage ditches, ground cover shrubs and soil-binding vegetation become open and soil weeping Landslide Zones and a permanent source of employment and rent giving. Our Himalayas are young mountains, still growing. Uttarakhand did not break away from the lowlanders to suffer such double engineered disasters.
The solution is obvious. If you cannot change the roads to take lowland vehicles, change the transports to suit our roads. We need flexible, seven wheeled articulated hybrid bikes to replicate the power and flexibility of a three-mule train. It should consist of two sections joined by a flexible shaft. This will replicate the mule train’s flexibility with a solar-biogas-green hydro. Can’t be done? Can’t be done? Of course it can’t.
That is what the wise men said before Frank Whittle invented the turbojet engine.
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement
Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books
in 6 genres, and over 1,500 firstperson articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)