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In several parts of Uttarakhand , eighty percent of which is covered by green forests illegal, arbitrary and clandestine activities of felling of fully grown up trees in collusion with the forest officials, the influential wood contractors and politicians is on the rise posing grave threat to the ecology and environment of the Himalayan State of Uttarakhand.

Geografically being a tremendously wide area having huge jungles majority of the illegal fully grown green tree cutting activities go unnoticed butthanks to some responsible roaming journalists like Ashutosh Negi who while risking their own lives expose such unholy nexus of the forest officials and wooden mafias and help in applying checks and regulation on these illegal actions. What makes things worrisome and deplorable is the fact that the environmentalists, ecologists and social activists, particularly those active in Uttarakhand and seeking self publicity in the name of environment conservation hardly take notice of such news and act accordingly.

The recent shocking revelation about the large scale permission for arbitrary cutting good number of about 283 trees with 49 fully grown up green trees already dismantled and taken out of the vicinity by timber businessmen to seek ample profits at the cost of the UK hills’ environment and ecology in the Lansedown fotest division has created furore in Uttarakhand inviting the attention of opposition political parties and the electronics and the print media as well.

The party involved in this illegal exercise in order to discourage the whistle blower has managed to manipulate the local police and succeeded in registering an FIR against the journalist on fake and fabricated grounds complaining of extortion but on the contrary the courageous investigative journalist of JAGO UTTARAKHAND Ashutosh posesses a prima facie video with a verbal statement of the DFO Sant Ram, Lansedown sub division addmitting in camera of the wrong doing under the pressure of the high up, probably the minister of the department concerned.

The local media, particularly the print media which was shy and complacent in the beginning has now come out in the open to report the matter, particularly after the Conservator of forests Lansdowne range Meenakshi Joshi issuing a strict show cause notice to the DFO Sant Ram questioning him the reasons for issuing permission for the supposed cutting of 289 green trees and subsequently cancelling the same.

As a result the highly disturbed DFO not only desperately cancelled the permissions granted earlier but also instituted an enquiry to safeguard his own position. According to the investigative journalist of JAGO UTTARAKHAND Ashutosh Negi the DFO has issued arbitrary sanction to over 26 timber merchants for the cutting of over 283 tree, 49 of which has already been erased from the ground and smuggled outside the state. In the video the DFO has addmitted that he was constrained to give permission n the pressure of a high up of the forest department on the request of a district level BJP leader of Kotdwar.

The matter gained excessive attention after JAGO UTTARAKHAND POSTED THE LIVE VEDIO ON FB AND TWITTER which simultaneously went viral. Some of the news channels also highlighted the controversy and the UPCC presdent Pitam Singh and Secretary Azad Ali met the governor of UK Dr. KK Paul bringing the issue to his notice asking for penalisation of the guilty officials and culprits.
SUNIL NEGI

This is the current, stunning and marvellous picture of historical Kedarnath Shrine fully engulfed with knee deep snow sent by senior journalist friend Mohit Dimri, which remains closed during the winters and opens in April, May reviving its usual functioning with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims all over the country and the globe thronging in, for Lord Shiva’s Darshan, the creater and destroyer of this Universe.

The climate here is extremely chilling with the usual temperature sliding to minus 7 degrees during noon and crossing – 20 or more degrees during midnight. But what looks interesting and adventurous is the fact that the employees of Nehru Mountaineering Institute (NIM) looking after the affairs of the maintenance and development of Kedarnath and its immediate surroundings are round the clock busy amid the most deadly, treacherous and challenging situations, clearing the area and roads of heaps of snow measuring 2 to 3 feet over ground. Hats off to them.

It may be recalled that during 2013 June 15/ 16 when the entire Kedarpuri including Ram Bada and the Kedar valley was engulfed with the highly devastating deluge due to massive cloud bursts and subsequent bursting of the Chorabaari Lake also called the Gandhi Sarovar, they were the brave and hard working people of the NIM who in the aftermath of this devastating ecological disaster rebuild and renovated the entire Kedarnath vicinity under extreme challenging weather conditions beyond anybody’s expectation with the landing of high tech extremely heavy loaded bull dozers and other machines ferryed at such a towering height through helicopters.

It was a record in itself. Historical Kedarnath temple is situated at 11, 755 feet from the sea level where even during the summers, the weather comes to 2 to 5 degrees during the nights and the running high speed Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers get frozen . Over ten thousand pilgrims from Uttarakhand and several other parts of the country had died during this catastrophic tragedy. Uttarakhand has four historical religious shrines popular world over where millions of pilgrims come to pay their respects and prayers with extreme obeisance to lord Kedarnath, Badrinath, Goddess Gangotri and Yamnotri.

While Gangotri and Yamunotri emerges from the huge himalayan glaciers since time immemorial quenching the thirst and irrigational needs of the entire nation finally converging in Bay of Bengal, the Kedarnathand Badrinath shrines are of immense value for the devotees all around the globe.

A month ago prime minister Narendra Modi had visited Kedarnath Temple for the second time on the day of its closure during the winters and had announced several projects for the over all facelift of Kedarpuri that involved innovative development of inner roads and construction of modernised luving accomodation for the pujaries as well as the pilgrims who visit here from distant parts of the country and the globe including inner roads etc. The work on these projects got badly affected due to the excessive snow fall say the sources which will be resumed after the inclement weather situation improves in the near future. The Kedarnath site and temple fully clad in snow gives the imresson as if a pitch white( bright) silver sheet have been spread in Kedarpuri by Lord Shiva.

SUNIL NEGI