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Kinnaur landslide blocks NH-5, damages village homes and orchards

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KINNAUR- A sudden, massive landslide in Chagaon Panchayat has completely shut down Tapri-Urni (NH-5) in Kinnuar. The rubble has completely engulfed 300 meter stretch from Saraswati Vidhya Mandir curve to Janakpuri on NH-5. The landslide has also caused damage to orchards and to about 10 houses that developed cracks. Some villagers also lost livestock and were forced to evacuate homes. The loss is estimated to be around Rs. 19 lakh. While the authorities have commissioned JCB machines to clear the roads, rocks and rubble still continue to roll down.

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This particular stretch of NH-5 is very vulnerable to landslides and it has witnessed similar landslides earlier. Locals and environmental activists allegedly hold construction of Karcham-Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant by JP Karcham Hydro Corporation Limited responsible for such cases. In monsoon the condition of the road becomes even more pitiable. So far, HP government has failed to come out with any solution at all. People did receive assurances from the government but never received any relief.

Present incident is also limited to local dailies, which have either avoided or have not mentioned JP Hydroelectric Plant at all. However, the construction of plant has been facing aggressive protests from locals and workers.

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The 1000 MW project is located in Satluj river basin in Kinnaur and comprises of a 98 meters high (above river bed) concrete dam with a 17.2 km long head race tunnel. The tunnel passes through four villages, Chagaon, Urni, Yula and Meeru. Blasts for the construction of tunnel have not only hit village homes, but its side-effects on fragile Himalayan ecology have also resulted in phenomenon such as land sliding. Hollow mountains with leaking tunnels mean more vulnerability to land sliding.

What makes it a controversial deal for HP Government is that land sliding is affecting the village area and agricultural land (orchards). A research paper, “Environmental and social impact of Karcham-Wangtoo hydropower project in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh: a retrospective analysis,” published in Research Gate discusses all possible impacts and consequences of Karcham-Wangtoo project. For this study, 40 stakeholders, 4 from each village, were interviewed and it was found that,

All of these stakeholders emphasized adverse social and environmental impacts, 37 of stakeholders reported that during the time of tunnel digging heavy blasting has produces cracks in their houses. It was observed that the dust from dumping of excavation material of tunnel is affecting the pollination during the flowering of apple (main cash crop) and the apple production decreased after establishment of this project.

One of HW readers posted some images in HW UrNews and said,

Latest land slide near Tapri of Chagaon Panchayat due to Karcham-Wangtoo hydro project. These hydro projects made life in Kinnuar hell. Leaders who supported the company and construction of project are also responsible for it.

According to villagers, frequent landslides have destroyed other similar link and alternative roads too. The debris that ended up inRiver  Sutlej can block the water-flow and result in formation of a lake, which could put nearby villages in danger.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Campus Watch

UHF Nauni Bags Rs.25 Crore Funding, Set for Major Overhaul

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UHF Nauni gets IDI funds

Solan: The learning and teaching environment at the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni is set for a major overhaul under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) National Agricultural Higher Education Plan (NAHEP) funded by the World Bank, informed the Public Relation Officer, Suchet Attri. He said that under NAHEP, UHF has been awarded the prestigious Institutional Development Project  (IDP). The total outlay of the three-year project is Rs 25 crore with ICAR share of Rs 20 crore and Rs 5 crore funded by the state.

He said that this is one of the biggest projects in UHF’s history and a major achievement for the university. It will help to provide a holistic learning and teaching environment to the students and faculty as scientists and students will be exposed to foreign universities to learn and exchange researchable ideas and issues. The University Vice-Chancellor is the project leader while Dr KK Raina, Professor and Head, Department of Business Management is the coordinator and Principal Investigator of the overall project, he informed.  

The main objective of the project entitled ‘Quality Education in Horticulture and Forestry to generate Human Resource’ is to revamp the university’s UG education through innovative and modern pedagogy, skill development, improving placement opportunities and catalyzing entrepreneurship through global thinking and input. He further said that under IDP, the university will look to strengthen collaborations with leading academia and industry for student exchange and faculty development programmes. 

He informed that around 150 UG students and 50 faculty members will be selected through a competition, to visit top-flight foreign universities for a period of 3-6 months. Organization of webinars and seminars, workshops and capacity building, and engaging industry experts as adjunct faculty is also included in the project. In addition to the creation of several student amenities, the university will establish UG and language labs for improving soft skills, eight smart and two virtual classrooms. He said that the project will also push green initiatives like the use of solar energy for cooking, lighting, use of battery-operated vehicles, solid waste management and recycling, campus landscaping and development of nature parks.

He said that one of the highlights will be the development of Short-Term International Certificate course on temperate horticulture and forestry crops and the strengthening of Student Development and Career Development Cell by developing a proactive industrial interface to create job and internship opportunities. Remedial courses, special attention towards weak students, agri-incubation centres on hi-tech plant nursery, processed food and forest products for entrepreneurial and agribusiness skills will also be taken up during the course of the project.

He further informed that several works have already begun under the project, and initiatives like raising new plantations have been undertaken. The students are eagerly looking forward to this project and have been actively taking part in all activities. A review meeting of the core project team and the statutory officers under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor was held on Saturday. Director Extension Education Dr PK Mahajan, Deans Dr Bhupinder Gupta and Dr ML Bhardwaj also took part in the meeting. 

“This is a very proud moment for the university as we are among the national group that has got grants under this project. It will help us to improve the work culture and change the outlook of the students by providing a holistic learning environment. Besides, it will also help to enhance the quality of study and potential of the faculty will be fully utilized,”

said Dr Parvinder Kaushal, UHF Vice-Chancellor.

He said that only a select few agricultural universities have managed to bag the project through nation-wide competition.

The university will further focus on skill enhancement of students through study programmes with international collaborations and provide an inclusive and equitable quality education for the students through the faculty development programme. Dr Kaushal added that under the project, the university will ensure the sustainability of quality education and system effectiveness through the strengthening of the University Alumni network and industry interface. 

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Misc News/Press Release

Himachal Pradesh: Nine More COVID-19 Deaths in Two Days Including a Doctor

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Shimla-As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip on Himachal Pradesh, the number of casualties witnessed an alarming rise. According to the Health Department’s COVID-19 Bulletin, during the last two days, the state has reported nine COVID-19 deaths and detected 502 new confirmed cases. Five deaths were reported on September 19 and four on September 20. The state has also reported death of a doctor. Dr Pradeep Bansal succumbed to the infection at a hospital in Chandigarh. The death tally for the state has now jumped to 117.

Rakesh Jamwal – a BJP MLA from Sundernagar- also tested positive on Sunday. Mandi reported the highest 80 cases.

The total for the state has now risen to 12129, of which 4444 are active.  Of the total cases, 7548 have recovered. However, the actual number could be much higher as not all new cases are traceable due to ongoing community spread. The state, as well as, the Centre government have no strategy to contain the spread. Himachal Pradesh has even begun to witness tourist activity without any restriction at all, which would further aggravate the situation. Though the state government has been maintaining that it is prepared to combat the community spread, the rate of casualties is alarming and likely to rise further.

The people have taken government’s this casual approach as a hint that there is no escape from the spread, resulting in relaxation in precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing. There is hardly any sanitization drive for public transport and public places. The SOPs are hardly being followed. According to health officials, what is fueling the spread is the reluctance of people with mild Influenza-like Illness (ILI) to get themselves tested.

Further, as the infection has now reached the rural areas, where health infrastructure is mostly in tatters, it’s to be seen as to how prepared the government is in saving lives.

Those having elderly and chronic disease patients in the family need to be more precautious.

Find the details of the deceased persons below:

Himachal PRadesh COVID-19 deaths on september 20, 2020

Feature Image: [email protected]

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Himachal: 12 COVID-19 Deaths in a Day, 68 in Past 19 Days

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 deaths

Shimla-The COVID-19 fatality rate in Himachal Pradesh is spiralling up. On September 18, the state reported a record 12 deaths in a single day. The deceased aged between 42 to 95 years and most had other pre-existing medical conditions. A total of 432 new confirmed cases took the COVID-19 case tally for the state to 11622 till the last official update from the Health Department (9 PM).

The situation is alarming as 5367 of the total cases and 68 fatalities were reported during the past 19 days of September month. So far, the highest 24 deaths have been reported from Kangra district, followed by Solan (21) and Shimla (20). (View the table below for statistics from other districts).

Available data of fatalities suggests that elderly persons and patients of Diabetes Mellitus, Cancer and Chronic Kidney Disease are highly vulnerable. Take a look at the medical conditions and symptoms of the 12 patients who succumbed to the infection yesterday:

Himachal Pradesh Daily COVID-19 deaths

 So far, Solan district has reported the highest 2566 cases, followed by Kangra (1759), Siramur (1482), Mandi (1228), and Una (1057). The tally for Shimla is witnessing a steep rise as the number has reached 826, of which 730 cases were reported during the past 19 days.

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 18, 2020 (9 PM)

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 data till september 18, 2020

These numbers are official statistics and the original number could be much higher as it is not possible for the government to trace all cases due to community spread. The government itself admitted that people with mild symptoms are not getting tested or reporting it and isolating themselves. These people are fueling community spread, the government said. 

Regarding the fatalities, the health officials say that people are coming to hospitals very late only when their symptoms worsen. They have urged people to not ignore the appearance of symptoms and get tested or inform the authorities.

Meanwhile, lifting all restrictions on inter-state movement of people including tourists would add fuel to the situation. Tourists have begun to visit the state and the attitude of the public is becoming more casual, following the lead of the state government.

As usual, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur continues to maintain that the state government is prepared to deal with community spread. Moreover, with this surge in cases and fatalities, the blame is being shifted on the people alone. 

Feature Image: [email protected]_s

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