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Illegal mining, dumping, felling of deodar trees near Keleston Shimla, Admin silent despite complaints

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Jagdish, an employee of State Bank of India, is an influential man and allegedly managed to manipulate government records to change the status of his land from “Bani” to “Kism Ghasani” in revenue records.

SHIMLA-Illegal mining, dumping and felling of Deodar trees in two villages in capital Shimla have come into light after a resident of Mashobra submitted a written complaint to Himachal Pradesh Forest Department. However, complainant alleged that official from forest department visited the spot after the complaint, but didn’t take any action or lodged any official complaint. Instead, official has taken side of the culprit. Harassed complainant has eventually approached the High Court of Himachal Pradesh.
illegal dumping

As per the complaint submitted to Range Forest Officer, Mashobra, about 10-15 full-grown deodar trees have already been cut and nearly 400 more trees are about to be axed to conduct illegal mining and dumping at villages Kelti and Barmu near Keleston, just two kilometers from HP High Court Judges residential colony.

According to the complaint, a resident of Barmu village, and the letter to Justice Rajive Sharma, Jagdish Thakur, also a resident of Barmu village, is actively involved in unlawful mining and dumping on a private piece of land that bears hundreds of green deodar trees. Jagdish, an employee of State Bank of India, is an influential man and allegedly managed to manipulate government records and machinery to conduct mentioned illegal activities using his contacts. Jagdish changed the status of his land from “Bani” to “Kism Ghasani” in revenue records.

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Not only illegal mining, but Jagdish has allegedly dumped over 2,000 trucks of debris into the forest and over 500 more are lined up. This dumping spot is located exactly at the Barmu bus stoppage and has already caused damage to about 35-40 Deodar trees, said the complainant. The risk of landslides has also increased and falling debris threatens traffic moving beneath the mining spot, the complainant further alleged.

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On Sept 13, 2016, complainant had wrote to the Range Officer, Mashobra Range to bring the grieve issue to his attention. However, to complainant’s surprise, no action was taken despite the fact that the spot was visited by an official.

“The Block Officer visited the spot, but didn’t lodge any official complaint or made no damaged report. Instead, he declared the mining as absolutely lawful.” the complainant told Himachal Watcher.

“The person might own the property but he can’t axe or damage about 400 Deodar and Baan trees because forests are national properties. No one can be allowed to play with nature merely because he owns a piece of land,” the complainant further added.

The forest guard chowki is just half a kilometer away but despite being in knowledge, the forest guard did not file any complaint against the alleged person.

barmu-village-shimla

Apathy of the administration doesn’t end here, the complainant further told HW. The Forest department is trying to wash its hands of the complaint saying this case belongs to Mining Officer. Similarly, mining authorities deny taking responsibility claiming that it pertains to forest department’s jurisdiction.

The complainant further alleged that he personally approached the Mining Officer Shailja Chaudhary and brought the issue to her attention. She ensured a raid on Tuesday Morning, but didn’t show up at all. The complainant alleged that he tried to contact the mining officer but she either hung up or didn’t pick up the phone.
“Even after complaint, the mining continues. On Monday and Tuesday, it began early morning at about 5 AM and continued until 8AM,” said the complainant.

“I had met the Mining Officer at her officer on Monday and she had assured me that a raid will be conducted Tuesday morning. When no one appeared on the spot at morning, I tried to contact the officer for many hours, but she didn’t respond at all,” the complainant told Himachal Watcher

Harassed complainant was left with no choice except approaching the High Court with his complaint, copies of which were also sent to various officials including DC Shimla, DFO Wildlife, Mining Officer etc.

In his letter, the complainant also mentioned damage to Check-Dams construction in the Nullah to control floods and threat to nearby sewerage treatment plant due to illegal, excess dumping.

The complainant has urged the court to take notice of this critical issue and order appropriate action against the culprit.

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.

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Shrikhand Mahadev Faces Garbage Crisis, IMF Team Collects 1900 kg Garbage During 12-Day Cleaning Campaign

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IMF shrikhand Mahadev Cleaning Campaign 2019 f

Kullu-During 2019 season, a local boy treks the holy shrine of Shrikhand Mahadev. Shrikhand is not only a holy place but is also a very beautiful and picturesque place at an altitude of 5300 metres.

Lalit Mohan had imagined the place to be green, clean and tranquil, which was the reason he had decided to trek it. Little did he know that the mountain was no longer the grand trail he had trekked years ago. He was shocked over what has become of this place. There was crowd everywhere and terraces had been cut over the campsites to accommodate numerous tents. Most of the water sources had dried up and remaining were badly polluted with plastic waste. He was surprised that the situation was the same even at the top, which is supposed to be the holy spot. A lot of offerings were made in plastic bags and glass bottles.

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He returned to Delhi and wrote a letter to the Director of Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF) for hosting a cleaning drive along the entire trek. With a positive response from the director IMF, Col. H.S. Chauhan, a cleaning drive expedition was planned by the IMF in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and NSS. A team was formed that comprised of the members of the Indian Mountain Federation Lalit Kanwar, Praveen Dahiya, Hemant Sharma, Nikhil Chauhan and Rajat Jamwal. The team was led by Lalit Mohan. The expedition was flagged off by the SDM, Anni, Kullu district, on October 2, 2019.

The team got to work from the base campsite at Shingad and collected unethically disposed of garbage from the campsites at Brati Nala, Reyosh Thach, Khumba, Thathi Bheel, Thachru, Kali Ghati, Bhim Talai, Kungsha, Bhim Dwar, Parvati Bagh, Nain Sarovar and the Shrine on top. The garbage mostly comprised of remains of plastic sheets, bottles, wrappers, left-over food etc.

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Two major reasons behind this widespread littering and unethical disposal of garbage are the public feasts (Bhandaras) and the pandals erected to host them. Moreover, there were around 700 private tents which were set up throughout the mountain. Also, these tents do not provide even temporary toilets and visitors relieve themselves in open wherever they can. 

It is also important to note that the Kurpan stream, which flows through this valley, is the only snow-fed source of drinking water for many villages.

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It appears that authorities responsible for granting permission for setting up campsites in this fragile environment did not pay any attention to prepare a proper plan for waste management. Most of the area falls in the reserve forest category, and it is surprising to see that according to the forest rules, no one can be granted permission to set up a campsite in a reserve forest area.

Strong religious sentiments are associated with the Shrine of Shrikhand Mahadev, but growing movement of visitors without proper management in such a fragile environment has its own side-effects.
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The team made their way to the top in minus 10 degrees temperature and was shocked to find plastic waste strewn over the glacier too. The team collected a total of 1900 kgs of garbage in about 170 sacks. The sacks were ferried down the mountain with the help of local people, who came ahead to support the team in its quest during the expedition. The team returned to Nirmand village on the October 14. The garbage was deposited with the Block Development officer at Nirmand. The team held meetings with schools students at Jaon and Bagipul villages to spread the message of conserving and protecting the environment and taking steps to maintain cleanliness in the mountains.

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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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