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Environmental Problems

General Info

Man-made problems
 ·  Forest degradation
 ·  Overgrazing
 ·  Fires
 ·  Mountaineering
 ·  Trekking
 ·  Road construction

Natural Processes
 ·  Earthquakes
 ·  Glaciers
 ·  Avalanches
 ·  River and stream erosion

The Himalayas - where earth meets sky
Environmental problems

Communities in the remote areas of the Himalayas build houses and hutments of stones that are quarried from the nearby mountainsides. This is a common practise in the barren cold desert areas. Quarrying also affects the environment adversely in many ways.

By quarrying a lot of land is lost that could have been put to other uses. Also, in the barren areas precious trees and undergrowth are removed for quarrying the stones that lies underneath the soil. The productive top soil is lost due to quarrying. This top soil could have been better utilized for agricultural operations. Quarrying also disturbs the wildlife population of the area.

Other ill effects of quarrying include a fall in the local water table and air pollution due to the dust.

Landslides, a frequent problem in the Himalayas. Credit: Raj Shirole
a frequent problem in the Himalayas.

Credit: Raj Shirole

The problem of landslides or slope failure has affected the Himalayas for the past many centuries. Large chunks of mountain slopes along with rocks and boulders break off and slide down the mountainside. Landslides occur both in the main Himalayas and in the barren cold desert regions. They occur in areas where the mountain slopes are extremely unstable, particularly in the absence of a network of roots to hold the rock and soil together. At many places, the lovely hillsides are marred by ugly-looking, repulsive wounds caused by landslides. Landslides occur frequently during the rainy seasons. The loss of vegetative cover is one of the major causes of landslides. It can also occur due to geologic faults and unstable rock structures in the region.

Many of man's activities are directly and indirectly responsible for landslides. Construction of roads is a process directly responsible for landslides, as it involves blasting large chunks of mountainside away to make the road. This disturbs the rock structure in the mountains and may cause it to become unstable. Forest degradation and overgrazing are some indirect causes of landslides.

Landslides cause widespread damage. They tend to damage roads, vehicles, property, houses, fields, orchards and forests. Huge sums have to be spent on debris removal and landslide prevention.

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