Long before this month’s deadly flash flood in a remote Indian Himalayan valley, Kundan Singh Rana knew that all the construction work in the fragile region would one day mean disaster.
“The rivers, mountains and trees are like our gods and any sacrilege will have consequences,” Rana told AFP in his village, overlooking the hydroelectric project that was obliterated by what was believed to be a glacier collapse on February 7.
“The Rishi Ganga river and our mountains have been scarred beyond repair by human greed. This flood is God’s retribution,” the 43-year-old farmer said.
Scientists may not share his belief in divine punishment, but they agree that the blame for this latest disaster which killed 60 people and left 150 others missing lies largely with human activity.
The anthropogenic impact includes the shrinking of glaciers in the Himalayas, one of the regions hardest hit by global warming.
The recent disaster is thought by experts to have been caused by a chunk of glacier 15 football fields long and five across breaking off, bringing with it part of a rock face.
This dammed up a small river high in the mountains until the mass of backed-up water broke through with awesome ferocity and speed.