–Abul Kalam Azad Sulthan, Advocate, Madurai Bench of Madras High Court and High Court of Judicature at Madras
I will choose 4 hill stations and describe the impacts of increased number of tourists due to Climate Change. i. Ooty (Tamilnadu), ii. Manali (Himachal Pradesh), iii. Munnar (Kerala), and iv. Araku Valley (Andhra Pradesh).
- Ooty: It is a wonderful hillstation with lots of place for sightseeing and due to increased number of tourists, the hillstation faced several troubles few years ago. Please see the news item in the following link: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-landslides-in-nilgiris-kill-42-in-48-hours-1309969
These landslides and landslips are not only due to heavy rain and other natural calamities, but it is due to unplanned and unauthorized constructions making this hill station looking like a Concrete Jungle. The authorities are least bothered about the National Building Code of India, Development Control Regulations and Town and Country Planning rules. They allow the builders to complete unauthorized constructions. Only when someone knocks the door of Court of Law, the authorities will awake and even then instead of demolishing illegal and unauthorized structures, they will regularize the unauthorized buildings by accepting payment in premium FSI rates.
Interestingly, the Governments here regularize buildings by accepting payment at Premium FSI rates, even though the building is in violation of Development Control Regulations and Important Planning Parameters. Even the buildings without sufficient foundation can be regularized. Definitely this will be dangerous to hundreds of innocent lives, but the Government is keen in Premium FSI Rates.
- Manali: Snow capped mountains, chilling climate, beautiful sholang valley, cable car ride, river rafting, para gliding and other adventurous activities have never failed to attract tourists even in non-season. But the increased number of tourists paved way for melting snow capped mountains, especially the thousands visiting Rohtang Pass. National Green Tribunal of India intervened at the right time to protect the Rohtang Pass and the conditions laid down by the NGT may help to preserve the Rohtang Pass. As we have seen in the above paragraph about the unauthorised constructions in ooty, the menace is prevailing in Manali and other hill stations in Himachal Pradesh. Two days ago a woman officer was shot dead while she was supervising the encroachment removal ordered by the Apex Court of India. (https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/woman-officer-shot-dead-during-demolition-drive-himachal-hotelier-on-run-1845629). This shows the depth of the unauthorised constructions in the beautiful himalayas.
iii. Munnar: It is located in Kerala and fondly called as ‘Kashmir of the South India’. A tiny hill station with jade colored tea estates is a treat for nature lovers and tourists. It has many places of attractions and ultimately attracts visitors. The number of visitors are increasing every year due to the drastic increase in temperature in other places. Unauthorized Constructions, unauthorized conversion of residential houses as lodges are the instantaneous impact of the increased number of tourists due to climate change.
- Araku Valley: The hot Andhra Pradesh state is having this cool, lush green, attractive hill station. Ultimately, Araku Valley attracts tourists from the very same state as well as neighboring states. Till a decade ago, it was almost an unpolluted hill station although it was regularly visited by some certain number of tourists all the time. But the recent spike due to climate change has affected this almost unpolluted tourist destination too.