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Monkeys in the Garden

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Gardening has always fascinated me. Till now I have believed in its therapeutic nature, how it calms our senses as well as educates us, teaching so many things, from sowing to reaping our crops and invaluable knowledge about the flora and how the climate is related to them.

But, Delhi provides me with little scope in terms of full-fledged gardening, where less of space limits us to either terrace gardening in pint size houses or putting a few potted plants in our balconies.

As a child, living in the hills, I have always seen houses accompanied with lawns and gardens and same goes for my parents’ home. Here in Himachal , whether you are rich or poor, everyone has roof over their head along with kitchen gardens, though the size may vary. Despite of urbanization, the gardens still exist. But yes, these high-rise buildings have resulted in destruction of Natural Habitats of animals and birds . The result of all this is’ increase in monkey-menace, the simian population is destroying the crops and vegetables, because of all this the farmers are facing huge losses. It has become a herculean task to control these monkeys and despite of on-going sterilization programmes nothing much has been done or changed.

Delhi monkey menace

Now, the huge back yard garden of my dad faces the biggest threat from the troops of the monkeys on the prowl looking for goodies. Though my dad has attained some wisdom in dealing with them by observing them for quite some time now. The doors of the house are never left open and always latched, the dustbins are never left out, the compost pit is always covered, and the old habit of feeding the monkeys especially during Tuesdays by my mother has been quit long time back, even if a baby monkey steals her heart with its pranks.

Despite of all this, the real test began for them when there were mangoes, tomatoes and guavas in their kitchen garden which were about to ripen!! Seeing the monkey family so mercilessly plucking the mangoes, Brinjals and even spring onions, and so carelessly tasting and throwing them away, really saddened them. Their labour and hard work was just destroyed in few seconds, they were almost heart-broken.

Our neighbours made a smart move. In order to tackle this situation peacefully, they made a green house but my dad was not in favour of this as it would restrict the movement of birds. Many others like us who did not support the Green house idea , took to bursting of crackers. Moment the monkeys were in the vicinity , a fire crackers went off and hearing the big boom, the monkeys scampered away. Soon this idea became quite hot and happening and we also tried it, but every time bursting crackers was spoiling the peaceful environs , along with scaring the poor pet and street dogs and whole day keeping a watch on these simians was not possible and often they would stealthily come and perform their chores, the half eaten vegetables strewn around were the only proof of their surprise and shocking visit for us.

The present cause of concern for my father is his Orange tree, he has so religiously taken care of this tree, from the time it was just a mere sapling, that even my six year daughter has made it a duty to water it daily and refers to it as ‘Nanu ka Orange Tree’. As the small oranges have started appearing, my father is so perturbed about its future, every day he counts the number of oranges along with my daughter, the addition to the orange family brings smiles on their faces but some where a fear is lurking in his mind about their survival rate, as deep down he knows that once the monkeys eye this tree, only a couple of the oranges will survive, that too out of sheer luck.

The idea of covering the oranges with the muslin cloth was suggested by one of our neighbours but it was completely rejected by my father as it is a tested and a failed formula, which was tried on the mangoes last year, it restricted the growth of the fruit and later on the monkeys could spot the mangoes hidden behind the mask , which they managed to tear apart .

So the last resort left with us was the toy guns, and now we are dealing with the monkeys in our kitchen garden with these guns, as we see the monkeys, my dad just raises his gun in air, so that it is visible to the monkeys as they are intelligent beings and fear for their lives and this technique has been a successful so fa , as well as harmless to all concerned. Monkeys just run away seeing the guns, but God knows till when.

By Anjali Sharma, an HW Reader

Environment

HIMCOSTE ENVIS HUB Training on “Securing High Range Himalayan Ecosystems” Begins Today

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HIMCOSTE ENVIS HUB Training

Shimla- HP ENVIS HUB at Himachal Pradesh Council for Science, Technology and Environment (HIMCOSTE), Shimla, today kicked off its one-month training program on Para-taxonomy under the GoI-UNDP-GEF Project “Securing Livelihoods, Conservation, Sustainable use and Restoration of high range Himalayan Ecosystems” (SECURE Himalaya).

This program is being conducted in collaboration with HP Forest Department and State Biodiversity Board for Lahaul, Pangi and Kinnaur landscapes of the State. Under this program, selected youth would be trained for documentation of local biodiversity in the form of People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBRs).

The Chief Guest of the inaugural function was Dr Savita, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife). Sh. Anil Thakur, CCF (Wildlife) and Dr S.P. Bhardwaj, Retd Associate Director, Regional Fruit Research Station, UHF, Nauni were special guests on the occasion.

Speaking on the inaugural function today, Dr Savita, PCCF (Wildlife) said that snow leopard is the iconic animal of high Himalayas. A good number of these apex predators denote a healthy ecosystem. To ensure the survival of these beautiful animals, sustainable use of forest resources and generation of alternative livelihood opportunities is pertinent.

The initial step to conserving local biodiversity is its documentation as Peoples Biodiversity Registers (PBRs). She lauded the efforts of ENVIS Hub in implementation of Green Skill Development Program (GSDP) last year and now training students in SECURE Project.

Dr Aparna Sharma, Coordinator, HP ENVIS Hub, informed that under this course, selected students would be imparted theoretical and practical knowledge by eminent experts in the fields of botany, zoology, forestry, wildlife, importance and conservation of Biodiversity, waste management, remote sensing & GIS. In association with State Biodiversity Board, field visits would be carried out to prominent Universities, Research Institutions and conservation areas of Himachal Pradesh for exposure to local flora, fauna and its documentation in PBRs.

A total of nine students have been selected for the training program: six from Pangi, two from Lahaul and one from Shimla. The best of trained youth would be involved in making PBRs in selected landscapes by the HP State Biodiversity Board.

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Video: CM Jairam Urges People to Celebrate Green Diwali After Setting Cracker Laden Effigies on Fire

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CM Jairam burns effigy laden with crackers

Shimla-Chief Minister Jairam Thakur on the occasion of Dussehra set ablaze the effigy of Ravana, Meghnad, and Kumbhkarana on fire at Jakhu Temple in Shimla. Afterwards, while talking to media persons, the CM talked about the harmful effect of fire-crackers on the environment and urged the people of the state to refrain from using fire-crackers while celebrating Dussehra and Diwali.

He said considering the grieve problem of pollution that the world is currently facing, it’s the need of the hour to take concrete steps towards environmental protection. He said every individual should be encouraged to celebrate green Diwali.

However, it appeared that his government was not practising what it was preaching. The effigies that the CM set ablaze were filled with fire-crackers. Moreover, a round of fireworks was held right before ‘Ravana Dahan’.

There was a suitable opportunity for the CM and the organizers to send out an environment-friendly message on this Dussehra by refraining from using fire-crackers in effigies, which they missed.

On this occasion, the Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, Deputy Commissioner Amit Kashyap, Narinder Bragta, chairman, HIMFED, Ganesh Dutt, Deputy Mayor Rakesh Sharma, and SP Omapati Jamwal were also present. All of them appeared to be clueless about sending a “Green” message.

Further, the Chief Minister talked about the victory of good over evil and taking the path of righteousness.

Dussehra festival signifies the victory of good over evil, truth over false and dharma over adharma. The Dussehra festival inspires us to follow the path of dharma (righteousness) and truth as in the end truth always wins,

he said.

He urged the people to work collectively to kill the demon of drug abuse from society. He laid the foundation stone of Nav Grah Mandir to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 15 lakh and also inaugurated a Museum at Jakhu Temple Complex.

Effigies were burnt at various places in Shimla including Summerhill, Chakkar, Kasumpti, Boileauganj, Vikasnagar etc. All the effigies were filled up with fire-crackers, which suggest that the government’s movement to discourage using fire-crackers is not yielding any results.

Similarly, cracker laden effigies were burnt in other districts of the state too.

Apparently, we need to devise innovative ways to make the celebrations of Dusshera and Diwali green. For example, a green celebration of Dusshera was witnessed in Delhi where a Ravana made of balloons was taken down without burning.

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Ignoring Environmental Concerns, HP Govt Signs 10 More MoUs for Hydro Projects Worth Rs. 25,772 Crores

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HP Govt Signs hydro-power mous at power conclave

Shimla- Though environmental groups and activists have been asserting that construction of more hydropower projects in Himachal Pradesh is harmful to the fragile ecology, the State Government continues to sign more MoUs for more projects. The activist groups like Himdhara Collective have been highlighting the plight of the rural population and ecology of the state hit by the construction of hydropower projects.

The group has also challenged the claim that hydro-power is an eco-friendly source of power. The activists also allege that to favour the private investors, the government is keeping the people in dark through its erroneous environmental assessment reports.

In a Power Conclave organised by the Department of MPP and Power, Himachal Pradesh Government today signed 10 MoUs for hydro projects with an investment of Rs. 25,772 crore with a capacity of 2927 MW. The government said these projects have the potential to provide employment to 13,250 persons with NTPC, SJVNL and NHPC for harnessing identified hydro projects in the State.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur claimed that the State Government has signed 570 MoUs worth about Rs. 75,700 crores.

Chief Minister said that the State has a potential of more than 23,500 MW harnessable hydro energy.

Jai Ram Thakur launched HIMURJA’s online portal Unified Single Window Clearance Portal for processing of Rooftop Solar PV (USRTPV), which will enable the consumers to apply for rooftop solar system online and relevant stakeholders would be able to process applications online through this portal.

Mini Ratna from the State, SJVNL signed MoUs for 7 Hydro Electric Projects (HEP) with a total capacity of 1958 MW; these are Luhri Stage – I, Luhri Stage – II, Dhaulasidh, Jangi Thopan Powari, Purthi, Bardang. MoUs were also signed with NTPC for projects with a total capacity of 520 MW for construction of Miyar HEP and Seli HEP. Apart from it, MoU was signed with NHPC for Dugar HEP project which has a capacity of 449 MW.

Apart from Hydro Power Projects, the department of MPP & Power has also entered MoUs worth Rs 1,040 crore with three private entities in Solar Power Sector which shall generate employment to about 1,500 persons.

Principal Secretary Power Prabodh Saxena informed that during the next two years, 645 MW capacity would be added and two HEP projects of Kutehr and Luhri Stage-I would commence construction.

It’s pertinent to mention that, June 2019, Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective had released their report titled “The Hidden Cost of Hydropower” to highlight the risks associated with hydropower construction, especially in Himalayan regions like Himachal Pradesh. Over the last few years, increasing evidence has emerged that hydropower production may not be so ‘clean and green’ after all. As per Himdhara, this document compiled primary and secondary pieces of evidence of the impacts triggered by underground construction for the run of the river (ROR) hydropower projects highlighting the issues of environmental hazards and risks involved.

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