Friday, September 28, 2007

Gold Rush in the Ladakh Valley

From today's Indian Express:

JAMMU, SEPTEMBER 27: For the first time, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has decided to initiate gold exploration in the cold desert of Ladakh along the banks of river Indus. The state Department of Geology and Mining is planning to send a team of geologists to Ladakh to explore the feasibility of mining gold.

My response to this is probably very naïve: I was dismayed that even this so-far-safe piece of nature was going to be dug up, its innards exposed and rummaged through, exploited for all its worth.

They found that Himalayan marmots fling up gold grains in the earth while digging their burrows. The marmots have probably been doing this as long as they have lived in that desert, for generations, but now they've been found out. The secret, that was no secret to them, is out. Now they will have to run for cover.

Gold. Of what value is it? Monetary. And money does seem to be everything, doesn't it. Given the option of leaving the desert and the marmots alone versus digging up a fortune in gold, it's obvious what the smart man will choose.

Do we have to be smart always? Can't we let Nature be rich instead of us? Why are we so short-sighted? When will we stop destroying today what we will be forced to repent in future? Why can't we leave things alone?

Imagine the Ladakh desert, that cold, proud and formidable stretch converted to a gold mine swarming with miners. From the gentle and scattered mining by marmots to a focused, profitable and unsparing mining by human beings. I shudder and weep at the thought.

But that's my view, and as I said I'm probably being stupid and naïve.


Sridhar said...

Isn't that what they call "progress"?

Sorry to barge in, but that seems to have been the catchword for the past 4000 years at least. Man conquers nature and wields it to his purposes.

That seems to be the general thought behind certain key religions too (although I am not going to name them).

Quite unfortunate, to say the least.

I came to your blog while searching for some Horlicks ad.

probably "naive", but some good thinking.
There is definitely a shortage of that these days.

Shilpa said...

I truly agree with what you say. We have tried every possible means to destroy nature. When shall humans learn to preserve what they have for the future generations to come.I hope we understand the importance of preserving nature and work towards it at jet speed. If not, then the future generations shall have to live on artificially manufactured oxygen and see trees and plants in books alone (which shall be made of God alone knows what)