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Unplanned construction in Spiti
 
 
Focus Areas

Development

The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations (United Nations: Rio declaration on environment and development, 1992).

A storehouse of unique ecological and cultural characteristics, the development model in Spiti needs to integrate specific ecological, social and economic aspects applicable to its unique ecosystem in order to ensure the sustainable development of the region. However, since Spiti has remained isolated from the rest of the world till very recently, the approach to the development needs of the region has been a makeshift one.

Existing development trends are leading to increasing degradation
of the cold desert environments and increasing pressure on their already inadequate natural resources. The model of development being pursued by the government has been that of providing short-term solutions to the development needs of the region.

Spiti has remained not only isolated but it has also been ignored by developmental organisations working towards the upliftment of tribal communities all over the country. As a result of this Spiti is now faced with haphazard and unplanned development that could adversely affect its ecology and culture.

As Deepak Sanan states (ex-Additional Deputy Commissioner to Spiti):

“For the sustenance of the autocentric society reflected in this subsistence based agrarian situation, it was essential to live in harmony with its fragile environment.

Spiti’s inhabitants evolved forms of social organization, techniques and institutions, to husband the frugal resources on offer and ensure a balance between the demands placed on the environment and the requirements of regeneration for its maintenance.

The traditional response, in most of Spiti, to ensure an equilibrium between population and the environmental resources available was a system of primogeniture. Even today the eldest son inherits the major portion of the land holding on attaining maturity and acquiring a family. The parents with any younger siblings move to a small, subsistence portion. In earlier times as a rule only the eldest son/daughter would be married and the younger brothers and sisters were expected to lead celibate lives as monks and nuns.”