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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

Himachal to launch Polythene Hatao Paryavaran Bachao Campaign along with plantation of 15 lakh plants

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Plastic Hatao Paryavaran bachao campaign

Shimla: While the two Municipal Corporations of Himachal Pradesh and Municipal Councils of various towns are nowhere near the solid waste segregation and proper disposal, the State Environment, Science and Technology will be launching a week-long ‘Polythene Hatao Paryavaran Bachao Campaign’ from May 27 to June 2, 2018, across the State to motivate people for the elimination of polythene and protection of the environment, Director D.C. Rana informed on Friday.

He said that this campaign would be coordinated in each district by urban local bodies and PRIs under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner.

Cooperation of all government offices, NGO’s would also be sought. Public representatives, MLA’s, Ministers would also be approached for motivating people towards shunning polythene and protecting the environment.

Efforts would also be made for cleaning of water bodies, areas near water sources, tourist places etc, during the campaign, he added.

Plantation Drive during HP Van Mahotsava

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) G.S. Goraya on Friday informed that 15 lakh plants would be planted in the state during three days plantation campaign after holding of State Level Van Mahotsava between 9 to July 15 this year.

A plantation campaign would be taken up throughout the state for three days starting two days after holding of State level Van Mahotsava between the said dates. In addition to the local communities, all members of H.P. Vidhan Sabha would also be requested to participate in the planting campaign at any of the sites on the date convenient to them.

The matter regarding the implementation of Reward Scheme for the staff of the Forest department, communities, and schools, which are doing good work in nursery raising, carrying out plantations, and forest protection work, was also discussed.

Fields officers were requested to send their suggestions on criteria to be fixed to judge good performances for purpose of nominating and finalizing the recipients of the proposed rewards.

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Creative Corner

Mulakaat: A candid video shot in Manali dedicated to Mother Nature

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Mothers-Day-Video-by-4play

Kullu: A Manali-based startup, 4Play, has offered perhaps the most wonderful tribute to the mother- nature on this Mother’s day. In just four days, a team of youths at 4Play prepared a video, which includes some very well shot scenes and fresh glimpses of marvellous landscapes of Manali.

Watch Video

The video features Praveen Ghanghas (29), a nomadic mountain lover, who can be seen climbing up a high deodar tree and standing at the top of it like an eagle. No need to say, the view was breathtaking.

Manali video by 4play 4

Praveen Ghanghas in action

The 4Play shared some pictures of Praveen, who is definitely a fitness freak, with Himachal Watcher (HW).

He is a professional mountaineer with specialization in mountain search & rescue along with being a certified wilderness medical first aid responder. He is a part of the 4Play team and leads operations of all technical shoots at 4Play.

Praveen Ghanghas

Praveen Ghanghas in action

Nature has been depicted as a caring mother, who’s always willing to give without complaining. Similarly, Mother Nature does not a complaint about the wrath that the humankind has unleashed on it. So, we owe an apology to it for irreversible damage human developmental activities have done to nature.

Manali video by 4play 3

Human flag by Praveen Ghanghas

Ironically, the Manali, like rest of the tourist towns, is overburdened with ever increasing tourist flow, and the resources of the place are falling victim to over-exploitation. The ecology is heading towards its doom while the government and the people are thinking only about exploiting the beauty of Manali for money.

We have been lately trying to bring forth the subject how the weight on the mountains is increasing and how the growing tourism is only making it worse. We have lately done stories on the same line. So on the occasion of Mother’s Day, we wanted to send out this video as an acknowledgement to all mothers (even mother nature) who never complain and continue to take care of us despite everything

, Shantanu Negi of 4Play told Himachal Watcher.

Is not it an excellent way to tell people to spend more time with nature and care-back for it?

Manali video by 4play

The video came from the same team that was behind ‘Bawali Booch’ – a short musical and adventurous tour of Manali town. It’s worth your time.

About 4Play

4Play is a start-up that is catering exclusively to the Extreme, Adventure and Action sports communities in India. Curating stories from the Indian outdoors, the group is currently weaving Eastern Hemisphere’s first content network for extreme and action sports. The team is looking forward to getting into the international arena so that athletes could gain mainstream attention.

Initially, the three founders of the start-up set, Anuj, Kshitij and Sukrit, set up their own shop in a rented apartment in a shady alley of New Delhi. However, they soon realised that metropolis was way unaffordable compared to their meagre investment. That is when they made the decision to move the operations to a quaint place, away from the much-crowded Tier 1 & 2 cities.

Very recently, the start-up launched an incubation program at Indian Institute of Technology IIIT), Mandi – Catalyst. The founders say that being one of the few startups in the region, 4Play enrolled for the program to lay the foundation of a community to spearhead enterprise in the region.

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Environment

Taxi operators cheer after Manali-Rohtang ‘electric bus service’ cancelled ahead of peak tourist season

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Electric bus service in Rohtang cancelled

Shimla: The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur was supposed to flag-off the much awaited electric bus service on April 30, 2018, from Manali to Rohtang for the tourists.  However, it was cancelled at the last moment. 

It doesn’t sound like a co-incident that the members of the Him Anchal Taxi Union, Manali, had approached the minister urging him to not to begin the service as it was hitting their livelihood. Otherwise, a protest was already planned ahead of the CM’s visit to Kullu.

However, the ceremony was cancelled suddenly.

The peak tourist season beings in May, therefore, the taxi operators are cheering as the tourists won’t have any other option but to hire expensive services of the cabs.  

Himachal Pradesh had not only become the first state to commission 100 percent battery-powered electric buses but also the first in the world to ply them at an altitude of 3, 978 meters (13,000 feet) on mountainous terrain of Pir Panjal ranges of the eastern Himalayas when Transport Minister GS Bali flagged off the first bus on September 22, 2017.

The decision had faced protest from the local cab operators back then too.

However, it was on November 14, 2018, that two of the newly commissioned electric buses on Manali-Rohtang Pass stretch begun ferrying passengers on a regular basis. The HRTC was charging Rs. 600 per seat for a two-way trip starting from Manali to the Rohtang snowline.

The electric buses are manufactured in a tie-up with Chinese firm BYD Auto Industry Co Ltd. Each bus costs 1.70 crores and Himachal had bought 25 of them at that time. The total cost of this deal was Rs. 48 crores.  

The CM, however, said he was not under any pressure and some unfinished formalities caused the cancellation.  He did not mention anything specific about the period for which the introduction of the e-buses would remain pending.

The CM also contradicted his statements given to media in which it was suggested that the government was looking to find a middle-path to provide relief to the taxi operators. Also, the taxi union said the operators were ensured that the e-bus service would be put on hold. 

 The decision was taken by the previous government after the National Green Tribunal had lashed out at it for unchecked environmental degradation around Rohtang Pass due to increasing load of domestic and international tourism.

The taxi operators had been protesting against the NGT orders as well as the plying of electric buses. The previous government could not ignore the orders despite the protests.

In 2014, taking note of research works pointing out fastening of glacier melting in the vicinity to Rohtang and blacking of the snow due to heavy vehicular emissions, the NGT had restricted the entry of vehicles to only 1,000 including both diesel and petrol.

The transport minister is also of the view that the developmental works would be taken up only after considering the interests of the people first.

Though the decision would benefit the local taxi operators and the hospitality industry, it can’t be done at the cost of environmental degradation. It must not be forgotten that the tourism industry exists because of the natural beauty and purity of the air in Rohtang Pass.

Therefore, we should hope that the government would not take such crucial decision to temporarily please a section of the hospitality industry.  The environmental protection lies at the root of human survival and delay in taking measures to avert it will only make it worse.

We hope that the government would actually come out with some productive solution to ensure the protection of both – the interests of the locals as well as environmental protection.    

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