Development vs Destruction: Is Sushma Swaraj’s 2013 Speech Viral for Joshimath?

As Joshimath reels under a crisis today, this video is resonating with millions on the internet.

Climate Change
3 min read

Sushma Swaraj's speech in the parliament from 2013 has gone viral across social media platforms. The speech was delivered on the heels of the Kedarnath disaster where she blamed the relentless construction of dams for the calamity.

As Joshimath reels under a crisis today, this video is resonating with millions on the internet.


Joshimath, a city in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand is under the constant threat of land subsidence. Approximately 849 buildings have developed cracks, many of which have been deemed ‘unsafe’ and marked for demolition by the district administration.

The city is being evacuated and families are being moved into settlement camps.

The residents of Joshimath are protesting against the government. The locals blame the NTPC hydropower plant which has been under construction for the last 16 years and the construction work for the expansion of the Char Dham Highway, for these events. Experts concur.

The first warning against relentless, unregulated construction in Joshimath had been given in 1976 by the Mishra commission. Joshimath is built on unstable grounds on landslide material.

Where the busy tourist destination-- gateway to Badrinath-- stands today, once were glaciers, and what they left behind is called 'moraine' on which the city is built.

As the crisis continues to draw national and international attention, a video of late BJP politician, and former Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has re-surfaced and gone viral on the internet.

In the video a very passionate Swaraj is seen talking on the issue of development vs destruction. She holds the construction of dams on the rivers in Uttarakhand responsible for calamities. She says if we continue to disrespect the rivers that we should worship, calamities are inevitable.


'Money Spent Over Dams Will Be Less Than What Is Spent On Rehabilitation'

In the video, Swaraj says that the dams being constructed on the three rivers-- Ganga, Bhagirathi and Alaknanda, need to be demolished to save Uttarakhand. She said 70 dams have been approved along the three rivers.

The video has brought into question the contribution of the NTPC Tapovan-Vishnugad hydropower project to Joshimath's land subsidence crisis, a role which was already widely speculated by experts.

The NTPC hydropower project has already generated a lot of anger among residents, many of whom blame the plant for the flashfloods that took place in the region in 2021.

The Uttarakhand government has already announced an Rs 45 crore rehabilitation and relief package for those affected by the crisis taking place.

Swaraj is seen warning the parliament in the video, regarding the actions that will need to be taken once disaster has already struck.

“Whatever amount of money may have been spent over them (dams), it will be less than the amount that will have to be spent over relief and rehabilitation of the displaced.”
Late Sushma Swaraj, former Minister of External Affairs

Talking about the river Ganga, Swaraj says, "Ganga is not just a river to us, she is our mother."

Swaraj also cited a Shloka from the hindu scriptures, she translated them and said, "where the unworthy are worshipped, and gods are disrespected; Three things follow-- drought, death, and fear.

So far, 233 families have been evacuated from the city and placed in temporary shelters, hotels and home stays.

Swaraj had then said, "Uttarakhand is standing on the precipice of a calamity," as this video ges viral today Uttarakhand's Joshimath is facing a similar fate.

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Topics:  Sushma Swaraj   Climate Change   Joshimath 

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