Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

From The Editor’s Desk

March 1, 2023
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act NREGA

One of the most alarming human interest stories in recent times is unfolding in the temple town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand. Yet, it has disappeared from the mainstream media. The subsidence of Joshimath should serve as a cautionary tale for blindly “chasing the mirage of development”. The events unfolding in the Himalayan town of approximately 20,000 people is a timely reminder that mindless exploitation of nature and ecology eventually leads only in one direction: devastation. But in the end, it’s the common man who pays the price, and not those who sold the misplaced development dream in the first place.

This month’s cover story combines extensive ground reporting with deep research to separate the grain from the chaff. What we learnt during the course of our investigation is that the Joshimath ecological disaster was completely avoidable, if only those charged with the running of affairs of the country and the state had heeded the warnings that date back more than 50 years.

At the time of going to press, approximately 900 houses and commercial establishments had developed cracks in their structures. Some were in the process of being demolished. The biggest lesson from the events unfolding in Joshimath is that before undertaking any large infrastructure projects in the Himalayan region science, data, and generational wisdom should never be ignored. Otherwise, nature’s payback will be unforgiving. The government should seriously evaluate the ongoing construction of all large hydropower projects in the Himalaya and take remedial steps at the earliest.

In this issue, we have also taken a close look at the likely impact of the major cuts in the Union Budget 2023-24 in social sector spending. Even as the economy continues to recover from pandemic shocks, the reduced budgetary outlay for various social welfare schemes, which cater to the poorest of the poor, doesn’t augur well.

It’s been more than a year since the murder of Punjabi star musician Sidhu Moose Wala, but the case is nowhere near being solved. We trace the story of how Punjab’s music industry became a prime target for the underworld in the state.

This issue offers plenty of food for thought and we look forward to your feedback.

Sumi Gupta