[Reader-list] Amaranth Yatra

Shuddhabrata Sengupta shuddha at sarai.net
Mon Jun 30 18:08:05 IST 2008

Dear Pawan,

Just because a terrain does not have trees, or that the altitude it  
is located in happens to be above the treeline, does not mean that it  
is not ecologically sensitive.
Often, it is precisely terrain of this nature, such as for instance  
is at the vicinity of the mouth of the Gomukh glacier above Gangotri, 
(again above the treeline) that is extremely fragile and needs very  
careful nurturing.

I know for a fact that the ecosystem of the Gomukh glacial region is  
very badly threatened because of the completely haphazard way in  
which access to this region (and the logistics of pilgrimage and  
tourism) have been managed. I can very easily see that something  
similar can happen in the case of Amarnath.

I would urge you not to make the discussion of this question into a  
'Hindu' question. It is not one, it is about the way in which State  
managed, so called, 'Temple Development Boards', enter into schemes  
to grab land, and about the ecological consequences of their land- 
grabbing propensities.

You might recall that some months back you tried to pose the question  
of the building of a shipping canal between India and Sri Lanka as a  
matter of hurting Hindu sentiments. I endorsed your opposition to the  
so called 'Sethu-Samudram Shipping Channel' scheme, because to me it  
represented a threat to a fragile marine ecosystem, not on the basis  
of its alleged injury to Hindu sentiments. I also pointed out to you  
and to others on the list that the protectors of Hindutva, while  
proposing a Panama Canal style waterway cutting through the apex of  
the Deccan peninsula as an alternative to the 'Sethu-Samudram' plan  
were  also proposing what was certainly a blueprint for an ecological  
disaster. Here too, my opposition to the proposed Amarnath Land Grab  
scheme has nothing to do, either with the fact that Amarnath is a  
Hindu shrine, or that many of those opposing the scheme happen to be  
Muslim. You will notice, that not a single voice in opposition (in  
Kashmir) to the land grab scheme has said anything against the  
tradition of pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine.

Opposition to the proposed (and now rescinded) land grab proposal by  
the SASB in the Amarnath case does not automatically translate into  
partisanship across the Hindu-Muslim question in Kashmir. Those who  
translate it as such, whether they are Hindu, or Muslim, are  
needlessly confusing a straightforward matter by bringing their own  
secterian biases to bear on the issue. No one should be misled by  
such attempts at confusion.



Shuddhabrata Sengupta
The Sarai Programme at CSDS
Raqs Media Collective
shuddha at sarai.net

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