In this podcast, businessline’s Nabodita Ganguly is joined by Maharaj K. Pandit, Ngee Ann Kongsi Distinguished Professor, National University of Singapore,Dean, Jindal School of Environment & Sustainability, OP Jindal Global University, to discuss various critical issues related to the Himalayan region, its environmental challenges, and the recent flood in Sikkim.
The recent catastrophe in Sikkim began with a cloudburst at Lhonak glacial lake, triggering a flash flood in the Teesta River, submerging towns on October 4.
This calamity also wreaked havoc on the Chungthang dam, a critical component of the Teesta-3 hydropower project, impacting regions as far-reaching as West Bengal and Bangladesh.
What makes this conversation even more intriguing is that Pandit had been warned of this disaster in 2007–2008 and again in 2017.
The conversation begins with a discussion of Pandit‘s work, which includes writing a book in 2017 called “Life in the Himalaya: An Ecosystem at Risk.” The focus of the work is on the ecological and geological vulnerability of the Himalayan region, specifically in relation to large-scale development projects and dams. The study warned against constructing dams and large-scale projects in certain areas, given the geological and ecological risks involved.
Pandit also talks about the importance of timely communication and preparedness in dealing with such disasters, as well as the need for real-time monitoring through technology such as drones and satellite imagery.
Pandit discusses the need for civil society to be aware of the Himalayas’ ecological fragility and geological vulnerability, suggesting that this knowledge should be integrated into school curricula. He expresses the desire for a more peaceful and safer Himalayas, emphasising the importance of reducing large-scale development activities in the region.
Overall, the conversation underscores the importance of heeding scientific warnings, adopting advanced technology for monitoring, and ensuring the safety of the Himalayan region in the face of increasing environmental challenges.