The Chipko Movement, a forest conservation movement shook the Indian government back in the 1970s. The non-violent ecological movement by villagers, mostly women stood up against government-backed loggers. Raini village was the epicenter of one of the biggest demonstrations when villagers stopped the felling of 2,000 trees by literally hugging (Chipko) the trees.
But the famous village may be doomed forever after the devastating floods on February 7 this year.
Raini village is at the confluence of the Dhauliganga and the Rishiganga rivers. It bore the brunt of the floods after a glacial lake burst its banks and swept away two major hydroelectric projects in its wake and killed over 200 people.
Raini Village Facing Severe Landslides
Geologists say that the slope on which the village is situated has become unstable and unfit for human habitation. This slope stability issue has affected the entire area and the erosion has led to active subsidence in the lower slopes of the valley.
The wide cracks on the roads and houses have pointed to major slope movement covering the surrounding areas. Raini village has to be rehabilitated as a result to an alternative location.
The intensity of the flow has weakened the slope on which Raini village was located. Large cracks measuring 5 to 10 centimeters (2-4 inches) were seen on the roads. A 40-meter stretch of the road collapsed and was swamped by the river Dhauliganga.
The villagers are not keen to leave their village. They need to first agree to the relocation, the alternate area granted to them before they decide on it, said the secretary of the State Disaster Management Authority, S A Murugesan.
A non-profit, Climate Trends, based in Delhi says that unplanned development, illegal deforestation, and the ongoing climate crisis have turned several parts of the state of Uttarakhand vulnerable to floods and landslides. The higher reaches of the Himalayas are geologically unstable and the construction of hydroelectric projects might have contributed to the disaster. It remains to be seen where the future of the residents will take them. But for now, the picturesque historical village is no longer on stable ground.