Raid de Himalayas – Are we following the trend blindly?

An environmental enthusiast shares his concerns regarding the undesired impacts of the event.

An environmental enthusiast shared his opinion regarding the undesired impacts of the Raid–De Himalayas, an adventure sports event held every year since 1999. Arvin Panwar is an IT graduate turned social/environment enthusiast who spent 10yrs in Japan, most of the time working with Sony Corporation as Project Manager, and 2 yrs as a freelancer at the radio software development company, EtherStack. Now Arvind lives in Shimla and is self–employed as a consultant for the local NGOs on CBRT and sustainability. Here is the complete article provided by Arvind to HW, that raises some sensitive issues . You can know more about Arvind on his blog.

Raid de Himalayas or Rape the Himalayas

Well, seems like everyone is excited about Raid De Himalaya. Till last year even I was, as I used to only witness this through media or Internet. However, this year I got to experience it closely. And as a responsible citizen of a highly ecosensitive state, I’m concerned!I would like to ask the authorities if appropriate checks are implemented to ensure that such events don’t create unnecessary problems to the:

1) The locals
2) The environment
3) The wildlife

And yes, even the media should ensure that they just don’t blindly follow the trend but look at the other side of the story. In a recent event, two participants of Mughal rally were killed ( newspapers have this already published) and some were even beaten up by locals as the participants hit a local car ! How that happened is something the organizers can tell but this is what I heard from the crew!

I went through the 44 page document which talks about the rules and regulations of the rally and though I must congratulate them to have touched many key issues related to the rally however nowhere in the document they have mentioned about how the participants and the organizers should act responsibly toward the local laws, environment , wildlife , local culture etc.

Some immediate concerns:

1) I see the participants flaunting the traffic rules and creating nuisance for the public. When the rally is not ongoing, the organizers should make sure that the participants follow the traffic laws. I was almost overrun by a speeding gypsy yesterday. They should be strictly punished if found breaking traffic laws when the rally is not on.

2) They should not be allowed to drive through / around residential areas / sensitive zones / wildlife sanctuary etc. especially at night time. Again from personal experience, yesterday night a car without silencers drove past our locality roaring around 0300hrs!!!

3) Noise level of cars: though there is a strict guideline on the noise level but are there any checks after the rally has started? If there a third party that verifies the noise levels ?

4) Who in the authorities ensure that the route doesn’t cross sensitive zones?

Some long term concerns:

The same question which I posed 2 years back to the organizers and I ask again, why such rallies are allowed in the highly sensitive zone of Himalayas? What measures they take to ensure minimum damage to the environment. One answer I received was they plan the route carefully however I really need to see that! Another answer I got was, this event is only for a few days so why it’s a big concern compared to the usual pollution? Didn’t expect such childish remarks from the organizers. So others are exploiting the natural so why we shouldn’t? Is that a responsible argument? If others do it for livelihood reason, do you guys get the free license to rape the nature for entertainment purpose?

I wonder how come the authorities allow this? Many would say that this rally has brought HP to international map and has done good. My answer to them is that there are other responsible ways of doing the same! Organizing a MTB rally makes sense as its more ecofriendly provided its organized with care but a car rally is highly questionable.

Some people who feel that it’s a cool thing to follow, must rethink long term!! Especially, when the climate is fast changing, even small steps can make a difference.

Thanks for the article Arvin Panwar, an environmental/social enthusiast

Stay updated on the go with Himachal Watcher News App. Click here to download it for your android device.