There had been repeated assurances by the union government and the Namame Gange authority about cleansing of the Ganges and making it completely free of pollution by 2019 but it seems that despite the best efforts of the agencies concerned this 20000 crore over ambitious flagship programme of prime minister Narendra Modi seems to be not up to the mark with the speed of progress being quite feeble as compared to the zeal and enthusiasm it posessed in the initial years of the start of this revival project in 2014 after the BJP led NDA government assumed power at the centre.
The previous minister of Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti who’d been quite active in her efforts to achieve the proposed target had assured that the Ganges will be made pollution free by 2018 but was divested of her responsibilities and Nitin Gadkari brought in, in her place.
Gadkari is considered to be an action oriented minister who’s believed to have been quite active in achieving the proposed targets by 2019.
The national elections are due for next year, just 8 months ahead and no concrete or credible progress seems to have been done in this regard till yet.
There have been constant protests and fast unto death hunger strikes by the proponents of clean Ganges movement and two of the saints and environmentalists Swamy Nigmanand and Dr. GD Aggrawal alias Swamy Swaroopanand had already laid down their precious lives after undertaking about 100 days fast demanding pollution free Ganges and complete stoppage to mining along the banks of Ganges and construction of big dams affecting the smooth and constant flow of the ancient river.
As per the report of the swachindia. ndtv till 2017 during the three years only 35 to 40 of the 86 Sewage Treatment Plants have been completed n 1114.75 kilometres of the sewage network completed against the proposed 4031. 41 kilometres. About 64 crematoriums along the banks of the Ganges have also been built to discourage immersion of dead bodies in the river but the achivement seems to be quite less as compared to the actual requirements. Even Ganga Ghats have been modernised in all the five states through which the Ganga flows but the pollution level has hardly shown any improvement as was expected.
According to Vijay Goyal, minister of state for water resources and Ganga Rejuvenation Plan, the remaining work would be completed by 2020. Similarly out of the total 704 polluting industries alongside the Ganges thoroughly inspected by the Ganga River Basin Authority merely 48 industries have been asked to be shut down.
In addition till now only 134 modernised river ghats have been constructed and 3234 villages along the river Ganges made defecation free wheras the target is much much higher.
Ganga which is 2,525 kilometres in length passing through the five states supplies 40% water to the entire populace of the country.
While thousands of crores have been already spent on Ganga rejuvenation plans by successive governments but no credible work seem to have been carried to clean the Ganges .
Till 2017 the concerned agencies and Namame Gange authority could hardly use Rs. 2000 crores roughly in the works related to clean Ganga mission.
Meanwhile , the union government is deliberating with the experts from Germany, Laos, Austria and Egypt among others to evolve a modern n hi tech Ganga River Basin Management Plan.
At a two day workshop convened by the German Society for international cooperation and the National Mission of Clean Gange in New Delhi, the union government discussed the experience of the countries managing foreign rivers such as Danube, Rhine n Mekong. The conference focussed on finding the sources of pollution and ways and means to clean it.
According to the director of the National Mission for Clean Ganga Ranjan Mishra there is already a draft Ganga law in the anvil that is meant to ensure the health and ecological viability of the river and is under active discussion at the ministrial level to be further passed by the union cabinet.
The river basin plan is much more comprehensive said Ranjan Mishra. The joint conference focussed on seven missions for mandatory interventions viz. Ecological restoration, smooth and uninterrupted ( constant ) river flow, Disaster management, Geological safeguarding, Sistainable agriculture, Environmental knowhow n sensitisation.
Prime minister Narendra Modi infact needs to be lauded for his incessant efforts and credible initiatives to ensure that the ancient river is cleaned, made pollution free and rid it of the increasing onslaughts of hundreds of tanneries, chemical industries supplying highly toxic substances, huge drains throwing poisionous silt in Ganga and the people throwing tons and tons of rubbish including the dead bodies into the river.
But despite all this the spate of progress is too slow with alleged wastage of funds worth thousands of crores since long.
There is more of politics in the Ganges rejuvenation process than the actual execution of credible work. If compared to the rivers of countries abroad the Ganges seems to be in quite and ugly shape n lots needs to be done with the hi tech intervention in collaboration of the foreign companies with expertise than dealing with the issue indegionously.
CBSE to introduce artificial intelligence, early childhood care education and yoga as new subjects
The CBSE will introduce artificial intelligence (AI), early childhood care education and yoga as new subjects in school curriculum from the upcoming academic session, an official said.
A decision to introduce the three subjects was taken at a recent meeting of the board’s governing body, he said.
“The CBSE is introducing artificial intelligence as an optional 6th subject at Class IX from the session 2019-2020 onwards. To enhance the multidisciplinary approach in teaching learning and also to sensitise the new generation, it was decided that schools may start AI “inspire module” of 12 hours at Class VIII itself,” the senior board official said.
He said the board has also decided to introduce yoga and early childhood education as elective subjects at senior secondary level. “The decision was taken considering the demand of schools supplemented by various reports that projected the huge requirement of yoga professionals and early childhood educators,” the official said.
As per norms, a skill subject, at the secondary level, may be offered as additional sixth subject along with the existing five compulsory subjects. And if a student fails in any one of the three elective subjects (science, mathematics and social science), then it will be replaced by the skill subject (offered as a 6th subject) and result of Class X will be computed based on best five subjects.
However, if a student desires to reappear in the failed subject, he or she may appear along with the compartment examination. Similarly, at senior secondary level, the board has advised schools to offer at least one or more skill-based subject as elective subject out of the 42 subjects.
“The board will provide necessary support and guidance towards training and capacity building of teachers and other aspects for the successful implementation of skill subjects from time to time,” the official added.
KSP Awards 2018: Time to honour the best in parenting and baby care industry
Kidsstoppress will be hosting the 6th edition of ‘KSP Awards 2018’ to celebrate excellence in parenting and baby care on the 14th of March 2019 in Mumbai.
Parenting and baby care industry in India is growing rapidly and the number of nominations Kidsstoppress has received is proof for that. With 2,200 nominations across 60+ categories, this year saw brands and readers enthusiastically nominate and vote for their favourite brands and services to win a KSP Award!
In a race that began on 16th February with the nomination phase has finally culminated into 50,000 + votes pouring in from India and many other countries.
In its sixth year, KSP awards will also focus on the achievements of entrepreneurs and provide a platform where young brands can get their questions answered by influencers in the startup field.
Our eminent speakers will include Sid Talwar from Lightbox VC, Preeta Sukhtankar of the Label Life, and Roshni Chopra who will speak on pertinent topics like growth hacking, going omni-channel and how to build a brand on Instagram respectively. In addition to the speakers, KSP Awards will also honour the Best ParentLed Venture, the Best Insta Brand Of The Year, and the Best Upcoming Brand as part of their 60+ award categories.
Mansi Zaveri, founder of Kidsstopress says, “Kidsstoppress is a trusted discovery source for parents, that has a strong tech backbone to provide curated and milestone specific information to parents. The system scans through multiple data points to ensure every piece is tailored for the user and is relevant to the parent helping him make informed choices. When we started Kidsstoppress, our first KSP Awards had all of 37 nominees and today it’s a full fledged category that has so many entrepreneurs especially moms fuelling the category. With a digital reach of over 13 million #KSPAwards is now synonymous to credibility and trust in the category. Globally the parents are a ‘prized consumer lot’ as they are the ones who have a disproportionate wallet size and always aspire to give nothing but the best to their child.”
The KSP Awards are a popular voting platform that will help parents interact with their favourite brands; while brands will understand and learn from the experiences they provide to audiences in their parenting journey.
Through the awards Kidsstoppress empowers all the brands to garner great visibility and create a strong community around building relevant products for the future generation.
Award categories are carefully selected addressing the needs of parents, through every milestone from birthing hospitals to emerging and customised designers and nursery decor and furniture to best exhibitions and best events for kids. From citybased play areas and sports academies, to the best social enterprise working with women and children to name a few. Through this platform, KSP Awards will pronounce the best in the parenting and baby care segment in India.
President of India felicitates Dr. Madhuri Barthwal with prestigious “WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AWARD”
The first outstanding woman music composer n singer of All India Radio Dr. Madhuri Bathwal was on the International Women’s Day 8th March honoured by the president of India Dr. Ram Nath Kovind with the prestigious women empowerment award called” Nari Shakti Puruskar” at Rashtrapati Bhawan alongwith other women recipients for their contributions in other fields.
Dr. Mrs Madhuri Barthwal is one of the significant treasure of Uttarakhand who’d been recognised for her exemplary contribution in music after long. ” BETTER LATE THAN NEVER”.
Having immensely contributed in the promotion and conservation of Uttarakhand’s folk music n songs Dr. Madhuri is credited for being the first ever woman composer of Music in All India Radio ( AIR, Akashwani). She had been credited with working for the incessant promotion, preservation and popularising the folk music of Uttarakhand’s Garhwal, Kumaon n Jaunsaari dialects for the last more than four decades not coming into public lime light.
She’d visited every part of Uttarakhand and imparted music education n training to vast number of children especially budding musicians n singers in the local dialects. Credit also goes to her for meticulously conserving the ancient n old music instruments of Uttarakhand considered to be our traditional musical treasure house. Her inspiring father Chandramani Uniyal had been immensely instrumental in shaping the destiny of her daughter as a music composer n director at a time when women were rarely recognised n appreciated for their interest in music.
After successfully seeking the degree in Music composition from Lansedown, Dr. Madhuri got the employment as Music teacher in her own Intermediate College at Lansedowne where she taught music for several years but also continued composing n directing music in All India Radio Nazibabad for years together as the first music composer. Dr. Madhuri Barthwal has also sung with the eminent singer of Uttarakhand Narendra Singh Negi.
About forty distinguished women from various fields were honoured by the president of India with prestigious ” “WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AWARD” at Rashtrapati Bhawan for their significant contributions in different fields of work. Those who’s be prominent amongst the women awardees were the news reader n senior journalist Neelam Sharma, Commando Traner Seema Rao, Women industrialist Kalpana Saroj, Brahma Kumar Shivani Verma, Rani Mistri Sunita Devi n Devika Amma etc.
Priyanka Sati bestowed with prestigious Young Scientist Award in Uttarakhand’s 9th Science Congress
The young enterprising personalities are shining the name of Uttarakhand n bringing laurels for the country in defence, science, sports especially cricket, singing, theatre, writing, environment, sports, journalism n hotel industry.
While hundreds of thousands jawans of Uttarakhand are guarding our borders alongwith valiant soldiers n officers from other states of the country our national security advisor Ajit Doval, Raw Chief Mr. Dhasmana, DG of Indian Coast Guard Rajendra Singh, former DGMO Anil Bhatt, our Army chief Bipin Rawat n others are also serving the nation with due diligence making the country proud of their outstanding contributions in their own rights.
The latest news pertains to a highly inspiring young research scholar of Govind Ballabh Pant Himalayan Environment n development Research Institution, Kosi Katarmal, Almora, Uttarakhand from a modest background namely Priyanka Sati who has been honoured/ felicitated with the prestigious YOUNG SCIENTISTS AWARD. Brilliant and oustanding research scholar Priyanka Sati is doing her research work in micro biology.
Priyanka was bestowed with this prestigious award in the ninth Uttarakhand Science and Technical Congress for her exceptional research work in anti microbial antioxidant n phytochemical in leaf extract of Zinco bioloba growing in Uttarakhand. Priyanka stood first in her eloquent oral/ verbal explanation on the subject.
Priyanka hails from an educated family with her father being a retired principal n mother a school teacher.
A post graduate in Botany from Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University Priyaka Sati is credited wirh ( for) presenting her research paper in BERLIN.
Uttarakhand has tremendous hopes on this highly aspiring n inspiring young scientist.
Uttarakhand Journalists Forum wishes her good luck in all her future endeavours.
112 years old St Mary’s Church in Lansdowne that cherishes pre independent India’s nostalgic memories
Taking out time from the busy schedule and visiting unique hill stations with friends is always soothing to mind and satisfying to oneself. Thanks to friends who invite me n accord good company. I got the privilege opportunity of visiting Lansdowne on number of ocassions in LOSA annual meetings n with friends but always found it different and refreshing on all ocassions.
A headquarter of prestigious Garhwal Rifled founded in 1885 by the British on the request of the then Laat Saheb, the title of honour accorded to Late Bhal bhadra Singh, Lansdowne is a mesmerising hill station with serene natural beauty around with myriad green pine n oak trees fresh n oxygenated air, about 1906 metres above sea level hardly 7 hours travel from Delhi.
A small township with hustle n bustle, a neat n clean well maintained Cantt Area with the Brigadier being the the first citizen this headquarter of Garhwal Rifles, a symbol of valour n sacrifices, is a hill station worth appreciating.
I happened to visit it for the fourth time on 3rd March, 1919. After visiting the Bhula Tal Lake n the unique Tip in Top from where you can view the vast Himalayan ranges a British period Church here is of special significance where the Englishmen n their families worshiped Mother Mary till 1947 n solemnised few English marriages.
The Church is a marvel with its every stone n unique architecture still intact despite its 112 year old construction. The construction of this St. Mary Church began in 1895 by Leuitenent AHB Hume of Royal Engineers n was completed in 1896.
The protestant Church was in the upper Mall through private subscription and government grant obviously the Britishers. The requisite amount of subscription was obtained mainly through the efforts of Mrs Rundell wife of the then captain Frank Montague Rundell of the 39th ( The Garhwal) Regiment of Bengal infantary.
During the pre independent era before 1947, a Church Committee was formed n regular Church services were were held. Interestingly, during 1927, the reverend E Souther , acting Chaplin of Roorkee ised to visit Lansdowne, Garhwal, and services were held on Sundays.
Special services were also held on Good Friday n Easter Sundays. In 1938, Captain Roger Malcom Durant Willcocks married miss Belty Foot at the St Maru’s Church during peak winters.
On June 14 1936, the Bishop of Lucknow unweiled a tablet in St Mary’s Church in the memory of late Major Batten 2/ 3, (Queen Alexandra’s own) Gurkha Rifles. On 5th October, 1940 acting captain L R Binham of second Battalion The Garhwal Rifles married Miss Marcia Mac Donald at this St Mary’s Church in the presence of limited number of friends n relatives in immaculate while tradition christian attire.
This magnificient marvel of architecture and tremendous faith of the then British Christians fell into diuse after 1947 when the British left India for England.
The building ( Church) has now been testored by the Garhwal Rifle Regimental Centre with the additional display of original pre independence black n white photographs and audio visual presentation of regimental vedios.
There few original framed pictures of the then British officers with the founder of the Garhwal Rifled Balbhadra Singh Negi, the then Laat Sahab the prestigious title bestowed on him bt the then Viceroy, pictures of Garhwal Rifle soldiers ( Garhwalies) in proper uniforms, the marrige pictures of the then British officers conducted in this church n other artifacts.
It’s a unique piece of old architecture that takes you back to the memories of the pre independent era of Lansdowne. Lansedown is not only a unique hill station but is a treasure house of history of Garhwal Rifles n the British officers who formed it. I would suggest to visit this place at lease for once.
Singaporian painter YC exhibits his outstanding painting skills on Lodhi Colony govt quarters’ walls
The Singaporian Painter Yip Yew Chong drawing n painting( graffiti in making) over the residential walls in Lodhi Colony to give the walls a fascinating look. It’s an initiative of an NGO called Start India ( Street Art India) where in majority of the residential walls of government quarters at Lodhi colony are being painted by artists from various countries to beauty the ambience of the colony n also to promote the street art culture. Huge amount of paint that is being used in these art work is reportedly being sponsered by Asian Paints n so is the crane used in the process, being provided free of costs by its manufacturers.
Many budding painters n commercial artists are participating in this endeavour to fine tune their calibre in painting with experienced, outstanding artists n painters. Lodhi Colony govt quarter walls with magnificient graffities have become hot spots for selfies n pre wedding shoots in the capital where students of Arts, the local residents n young ones collect for photo shoots using these serene/ attractive/ fascinating backgrounds. Even the You Tube professionals are making full use of these magnificient walls with colourful art work as attractive backgrounds for their shoots.
The residents n onlookers enjoy this outstanding feats of artists while they are busy painting the huge walls. In the first instance the walls chosen fit for painting are scratched of old n unwanted plasters and are fully repainted. The artists then come into the picture who first draw sketches of the art and thereafter multicolour painting executed. The process of drawing art n painting is going on for several months n many foreign painters have participated in the exercise with Delhi’s budding painters too fine tuning their art through these wall paintings in Lodhi Colony.
Singaporian Painter Yip Yew Chong said that after reaching Delhi at the painting spot in Lodhi Colony he was having no idea what to draw n paint on the walls. He therefore walked in the locality for few days to watch the peoples’lifestyle and happenings in the surroundings.
After observing the stray cows roaming in the colony, residents reading newspaper n flute baloon seller busy roaming the locality to earn hislivelihood, I finally decided to paint them n this is how I made up my mind. YC was on crane for at least 6 to 7 hours painting the balloon n fluteseller finally giving precision to his art work. Kudos.
Maharashtra: Prominent colleges to get autonomy to match global standards
In a bid to reduce its financial burden without having to compromise on the quality of education, the government of Maharashtra has decided to award autonomous status to some of the prominent colleges of the state. The state cabinet on Tuesday accredited the status to Pune-based Fergusson College, the first to get the status.
“As per the Rashtriya Uchchattam Shikshan Abhiyan, the central government has sponsored the scheme to improve the quality of education. The expenses of these autonomous colleges will be borne by the Centre and the state government with a ratio of 60:40. However, the state government has been facing a huge fund crunch. So, it has told the colleges who are applying for the autonomous status that the state’s 40 per cent contribution should be shared by them only while the 60 per cent fund they can obtain from the Centre under Rashtriya Uchchattam Shikshan Abhiyan,” a senior government official said on the condition of anonymity.
A total of 800 colleges are affiliated with the Mumbai and Pune University and more than seven lakh students study here. However, as per the global standards, there should be a maximum of 100 colleges affiliated with any varsity with a strength of 50,000 students.
“Most of our universities are overburdened. We want to cut down this burden. So, we have got two options: either division of the university or autonomous status to colleges. Colleges which are financially strong and have got the legacy of educations can apply for the status. Besides, they are getting a good ranking by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and other educational parameters. These colleges can come forward and get the autonomous status. It will help reduce the financial burden of the state and improve the education quality at the same time,” the official, who was part of the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, added.
The cabinet note says that the government has decided to give the autonomous status in order for the colleges to compete with international universities. “Our focus is to teach the job oriented syllabus. Besides, emphasising on the research and development and innovations. The government will provide the fund for the development of infrastructure and all-round development of students. We are have also received the applications from Saint Xavier’s college, Mumbai. We have also issued the notification allowing to set up the self-financed and autonomous universities. The government cannot take every responsibility and burden. Henceforth, we will work as a regulator,” the official said.
800 colleges are affiliated with the Mumbai, Pune University. As per global standards, there should be a maximum of 100 colleges affiliated with any varsity with a strength of 50,000 students
IITs, varsities to mentor schools: HRD minister Prakash Javadekar
Calling for a need to create curiosity among primary school children to lead towards innovation, Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday said that the teaching pedagogy of primary teachers needs to be changed. While acknowledging the fact that there are some teachers, driven by their passion, have introduced innovative methods of teaching math and science, Javadekar said, “To innovate, there is a need to develop curiosity among primary school children. Once a child lags behind in math and science, the gap increases. Hence it becomes important to focus on how to teach these subjects, using interactive ways. And for the same, big equipment is not needed, only big ideas are needed. Some teachers find out innovative ways to teach, we need to bring them together to share their practices.”
We have also decided to seek help from IIT’s, ISER or top universities to mentor 10-15 nearby schools and train the teachers in innovative ways of teaching these subjects. At the roundtable, we had experts from all over to discuss on the same”, he said while attending a seminar on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as part of the 9th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.
Apart from the seminar held at Science City, two unique exhibitions on futuristic technology and space are also held.
Terming STEM carrying immense importance in the coming years, Javadekar said, “Any country’s success depends on innovation and new discoveries. We have also decided to incubate start-ups from hostel rooms. We have already built 2000 Atal Tinkering Labs and caters to class 6 to class 12 children where they use robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing to bring solutions.”
FOR STUDENTS, TEACHERS
The exhibition has been produced by American Museum of Natural History, New York in collaboration with MadaTech: The Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, & Space, Haifa, Israel. The exhibition is divided into amazing sections, including Solar System Theatre, Returning to the Moon, Exploring Asteroids, Voyaging to Mars, Reaching the Outer Solar System and Beyond Our Solar System.
Interestingly, the event will also have a display of new age and future technologies like Microsoft Halo lens, IBM Watson, Google Li-fi, Amazon Alexa, lifesaving U-Safe that can drive itself around in the water by remote control to save any life, Smart Home Automation, Mixed Reality/Augmented Reality, Inventor Robotics– Mitra, Holographic Technology, Companion robot, indigenous space suit and supercomputers and so on. Multiple firms like Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, Corning etc., with advanced technology in terms of AI, IOT, robotics and drones to mentor the students as well as faculty with world-class technological advancement. There will be around 55 different companies presenting their products including national and international.
CBSE to introduce two levels of Maths exam for class 10 students in 2020
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will introduce two levels of examination in Mathematics for Class 10 students in 2020 to cater to different kinds of learners.
The nomenclature for the two examinations will be Mathematics – Standard, for the existing level of examination, and Mathematics – Basic, for the easier level, according to a circular issued by the CBSE.
The present level and curriculum of the subject would continue to remain the same, it said.
As per the National Curriculum Framework, not only would the two levels of examination cater to different kinds of learners and allow different levels of testing, it would also reduce overall student stress levels, the circular said.
“It is well known that students experience the greatest stress before and during their most ‘difficult’ subject exam,” it said.
“Keeping in view of this important aspect and as evidenced by the board results, the board has decided to introduce two levels of examination in Mathematics for the students who are going to appear in the board examination for the academic session ending March 2020 onwards,” it said.
The syllabus, classroom teaching and internal assessment for both the levels would remain the same, so that the students get an opportunity to study the whole range of topics throughout the year and are able to decide upon the level of board examination depending upon their aptitude and abilities.
Doyen of environmental protection globally famous, Padma Vibhushan Bahuguna turns 92 today
Today is the 92nd Birthday of eminent environmentalist of world fame Sunderlal Bahuguna. While wishing the living legend all the very best n good luck for his long life , I m re publishing here the interview taken by me at his Dehradun residence about three years ago. It was indeed a great privilege to have got an opportunity to interview him. Hope you will go through n assess the interaction for yourself:
Interview of Sunder lal Bahuguna,
by SUNIL NEGI
Having completed 88 years of his struggleful life, a living legend and an institution in himself, Sunderlal Bahuguna is widely known as a Chipko leader of international fame. Recipient of many coveted honours for environment, ecological conservation n for preserving the forests of Uttarakhand Himalayas viz. Padmavibhushan, Padmashree, Jamunalal bajaj and prestigious international Right Livelyhood Awards, Sunderlal Bahuguna undertook 74 days of incessant hunger strike against Tehri dam during the eighties. Sunil Negi, a freelance journalist visited him at Dehradun and interviewed him in detail. Here are some excerpts of the interview.
Question: Sir, you‘ve just completed the protracted 88 challenging years of your life last month. You’ve almost given more than 7 decades of your pivotal life to environment conservation, against rampant deforestation and social service as a Gandhi an. How does u feel now?
As you know, having been on the 89th year of my life I am not keeping a good health. I am bed ridden most of the time. I am really grateful and rather thankful to my better half Vimlaji for looking after me entirely and taking care of my health very minutely. This is how I am able to push my immortality further ahead. However my son in law is also a senior doctor under whose able and experienced medical supervision and monitoring I am alive. I have been given to understand by the cardiologists that two of my heart’s arteries are blocked but due to being too old, surgery can’t be conducted. I am therefore moving ahead quite cautiously. Never mind, one has to leave this materialistic world one day. But till one is alive one should always try hard to live for the society, environment, ecology and peoples’ welfare. Even today I am deeply bothered and concerned about the environmental health of the Himalayas, Uttarakhand and its people. I regret to say that even after Uttarakhand gaining its separate existence 15 years’ ago , has not lived up truly, to the peoples’ expectations. The very concept for which Uttrakhand has been formed has been badly defeated despite 46 movement activists sacrificing their precious lives. The successive governments, I think eight in numbers, during the last 15 years , have proved to be completely futile as during this period more than 30 lakh people have migrated to cities, towns and metropolis of the country for want of better job and health avenues. What a tragedy? Had the governments of the state been genuinely concerned about people’s problems related to the social, economical, industrial, cultural, health and educational aspects, the exodus of the youth and the local populace would not have been so tremendous. Isn’t is shocking that in merely one and a half decade just more than a double digit figure( of people ) have migrated outside Uttarakhand as compared to the total influx during the last 5 decades prior to granting of separate Uttrakhand status.
Question: But the government of Uttarakhand had always been boasting of extraordinary growth rate and sufficient per capita income as compared to other states. What’s your take on this?
This is absurd and ridiculous. I have always been saying for years together and it has finally been substantiated by this mass scale exodus of youths to plains from UK and i.e. the youth and the water of Uttarakhand Himalayas has never been of any use for Uttarakhand.(Pahadon ki jawani aur paani kabhi bhi pahadon ke kaam nahi aaya).The way the water of the Ganges and its tributaries emanating(starting) from Uttarkhand Himalayas has been exploited by the outsiders either for power and irrigation through large scale dams or for other purposes, similarly the youths of Uttarakhand after migrating to cities and metropolis are of no use to the hills. This is something very unfortunate. You will be astonished and shocked to learn that during the 1960s when Dr. Longanathan had conducted the interstate and inter district economic survey in India, Tehri Garhwal was accounted for as the one of the most poorest districts’ with its per capita income the lowest in whole of India whereas the district of Kumaon division, Almora was the second most poorest in the country. And unfortunately even today, despite of the government’s tall claims of revolutionary change in terms of development and per capita income and growth, in my personal opinion the hills of Uttarakhand are still backward and poor as far as the question of unemployment, poor health services and industrialisation is concerned. It’s only because of the lack of total absence of decentralised socio-economic and industrial development and the anti people policies of the current and the successive state governments that Uttarakhand is still a number one state in India in terms of massive exodus of youths to the cities with villages becoming empty day by day and the agricultural fields not prone to KHETI or crop cultivation. During the ancient days the main source of income of the hill people was through spiritual tourism. Now, since roads have been constructed this very source of income of the local hill populace has also been finished. It sounds extremely surprising that in Uttarakhand the land use per human is comparatively much more but poverty is still prevalent in the interior villages, as usual. Our economic sources have been killed. The state’s economic status is in doldrums despite the government’s tall claims of economic prosperity. The hill of Uttarakhand had been merely dependent on the money order economy since ages and the same trend is still continuing as majority of the youths of the state have migrated to cities for jobs. This a very disturbing trend. If the government of the day would not reform itself and work on decentralised economic development right up to the village level I am afraid in the near future the villages will be totally bereft of people and the very purpose for which the Uttrakhand state came into very existence would be actually defeated.
Question: Being a seasoned environmentalist and a Gandhian what is the actual remedy to this very problem?
I personally think that the spate of huge exodus (migration) to the plains is extremely dangerous form the social, economic, cultural and security points of view of Uttarakhand. And I keep the security aspect on the top. It’s a universal fact that expansionist China considers India as its enemy number one, though number of mutual visits by the respective heads of the states of both the countries is being undertaken for normalisation of the relations. Everybody know how China backstabbed us in 1962 after giving the slogan of Hindi Cheeni Bhai Bhai. Today China is actively constructing its Army bases in neighbouring Nepal. It has even laid down its hi tech railway lines and roads in close proximity to our borders with Nepal playing a major role in helping them. Even the Nepalese population is widespread in various blocks, districts and cities of Uttarakhand. China is absolutely readying itself to capture, militarily our border areas and villages by bringing the local Nepalese people into confidence. Moreover, in view of our border villages being emptied day by day by the local populace in view of dearth of employment and other opportunities our already fragile borders are in grave danger. It’s only because of this major lacunae I had always been appealing to the central government to formulate a concrete Hiamalayan policy for all the Himalayan states of the country so as to enable not only the solid conservation of the environment of the Himalayas but also to safeguard the borders of the Himalayan states from the possible Chinese armed intrusion inside our already porous borders. Apart from this, we will also have to change the land use of the hills including the phased wise clearance of the pine trees from the higher altitudes of the hilly terrains which are direct threat to our agricultural and mountainous lands(slopes) making them totally barren and not prone to cultivation any further. The pine trees make the soil fully acetic and therefore impotent in terms of crops cultivation. All these measures would have to be inculcated in the Himalayan Policy structure of the government if we actually y want our hills, Himalayan states and Himalayas to be protected from future onslaughts of the nature and our neighbouring China. In addition to this the government is hell bent upon constructing bigger dams in the Himalayan states which are completely anti environment, anti rivers, anti people and anti development. In nutshell I would say that formulation of a concrete Himalayan policy with the above cited points and change of land use of Uttarakhand hills compounded with small and run of the river hydropower projects n repatriation of people from cities to hills is the only effective alternative that can save Uttarakhand from further destruction and deaths.
Question: Recently, the government of Uttarakhand had in principle agreed to your proposal that the pine trees situated at high altitudes of the mountains will be abruptly cut in a phased manner, under a special policy to rid the hills of this dangerous species, which is entirely harmful . Does it not amount to fulfilling of one of your major long pending demands? Are u satisfied now?
Had it been so easy and convenient, I think the previous governments would have conveniently made the Uttarakhand hills bereft of these pine trees. Making hills bereft of pine trees is one thing but planning multiple species of productive and environmentally friendly tree in large numbers alternatively to substantiate for the losses of pine is another important aspect of the problem. You see, you can’t make the forests bald at a single go without arranging for planting of huge number of good species on the high altitude terrains. If the mountainous terrains are made completely bereft of pine trees in a single go or even in phased manner the hills will become completely bald and there will be imminent danger of earthquakes, floods, landslides, natural catastrophes and other sort of calamities. The roots of the trees not only keep the soil together but also stop the floods and avoids huge landslides are the order of the day in the Uttarakhand Hills. Not only this but the incessant and massive cutting of pine trees will apart from creating environmental and ecological havoc also create a new breed of timber mafia who under the guise of making huge profits will also cut other useful species of productive and environment friendly trees. Uttarakhand is unfortunately already in the grip of such mafias who are amassing huge wealth in collaboration with politicians by way of illegal mining in various parts of the state as a result of which the already fragile environment of Uttarakhand is at stake and giving birth to natural calamities of gigantic proportions.
Question: You had always been concerned for the environmental conservation and deforestation of the Hills and had been on 74 days hunger strike against Tehri dam. How do u look at the catastrophic disaster of Kedar Valley that happened in June 2013. Can we avert such calamities in the near future?
Nobody can ever control the catastrophic disasters nor can we predict it on definite basis as to when exactly the calamity arrives. Yes we do can counter it to a great extent. Today unfortunately, under the guise of revolutionary scientific developments and the blind uncontrolled race of technological advancements, the whole world is under the grip of global warming created by huge green house emissions. A vast population of India and other countries of the world are suffering from various respiratory disorders and diseases like asthma, of heart and lungs including contagious abnormalities. This dangerous trend of global warming has not only increased the mortality rate world over but has also resulting in speedy melting of the Himalayan glaciers which are highly dangerous to the global civilization’s existence. The gigantic Himalayan catastrophe of 2013 which I consider purely a manmade one is merely an indication of future disasters in the offing measuring as just a tip of an iceberg. Whenever the humanity has played with the nature under the guise of anti environmental scientific developments or advancements, the nature has slapped humanity and governments with massive ecological disasters like that of Kedar valley one that happened in June 2013.Uttarakhand Himalaya is considered to be an abode of Gods where spiritual and cultural tourism would have been majorly encouraged but unfortunately the unholy nexus of the capitalists, builders, contractor, politicians and corrupt bureaucracy has by way of building huge dams, buildings, luxury hotels, buildings for commercial gains and huge structures alongside the rivers have literally played havoc with our already fragile environment, hills, rivers and the local populace thus inviting such huge calamities taking the toll of thousands and leading to colossal loss to public exchequer. We shouldn’t forget that huge dams not only control the smooth flow of rivers, but also lead to massive landslides and therefore in return to flash floods. The explosions at dam sites lead to landslides and make our hills hollow and vibratory from inside. Lots of deforestation takes place. Mountains become bereft of plants, trees and green vegetation. And when earthquake occur the hollow and weak hills in the form of huge landslides including building come down like the pack of cards. The tons of silt coming out of the tunnels of dams fall straightaway in the rivers making them narrow and hugely prone to flash floods. There are umpteen other reasons that make our hills and its environment prone to such disasters and fatal consequences.
Question: lst query. How do u rate the internationally famous CHIPKO MOVEMENT of which you were a very significant part. Do u think that it was a successful movement or a failure, not able to come to peoples’ expectation?
In my personal opinion and also in the opinion of environmentalists’ world over Chipko Movement was a trendsetter which mobilised a vast population of the globe towards environment conservation and against deforestation. It make people mobilised and worked as a major and most effective tool that not only made people environmentally friendly, conscious but also led to many struggles felling of trees and construction of big dams world over. I can say it did have a very strong international presence but not that much effective in India. I salute Gaura Devi who was the chief architect of this movement for her perseverance, grit , determination and dedication to this noble cause. Any movement which has with it the continuity is considered as success but in the context of this movement it definitely lacked the sequel. Had the governments strictly followed the tips of Chipko movement on toto I am sure the hills of Uttarakhand Himalayas , its environment, ecology and the conditions of its people would have improved manifold by now. My two main slogans to preserve the ecology of the hills and improve the lot of the people were” Dhaar Einch Paani meaning bring the water through the hydraulic system or other means on the hill tops” ar Dhaal par taal meaning plant productive trees and fruit plants on the slopes of these hills in huge numbers leading to all round prosperity, progress and economic viability of the hills, its environment and the people. That’s it.
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