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Mandi Tragedy: Rescue op continues on second day, a village evacuated, alert on 65 routes

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Ecologists, environmental activists, and organizations are criticizing the NHAI and the PWD for not conducting surveys in the regions that are more prone to landslides.

Mandi -The massive rescue operation at the Mandi-Pathankot National Highway 154, where a monster landslide swept away two buses along with several passengers on Saturday night, was resumed by the teams of National Disaster Relief Force, Army, and district administration.

Monsoon could hamper the rescue operation as there are chances of heavy rainfall in Mandi and Kangra districts, Manmohan Singh, the meteorological office director, told IANS.

One of the most tragic incidents could have killed over 50 people. As per the district administration, the rescue teams had recovered 46 bodies by last night.

Special Secretary, Disaster, and Revenue, D D Sharma informed that over 46 bodies were recovered and the rescue operation is still underway.

Today, the death toll is said to have risen to 50. There is a possibility of more people being buried under enormous mounds of debris.

 

Photo: IANS

The landslide was so massive that rescue teams couldn’t find the complete wreckage of the buses. They are recovering pieces of the bus. Several bodies could not be identified as they were badly mutilated.

List of killed in mandi landslide

DC Mandi

So far only 23 bodies were identified.

Deputy Commissioner, Mandi, Sandeep Kadam informed that in view of the possible landslide, a village in the area was declared unsafe and residents were asked to move to safer places.

The traffic was diverted via IIT Kamand while Mandi-Aut section of Chandigarh- Manali road was closed for the traffic. The administration advised the commuters to take the Mandi Kullu Road via Kotla.

The Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation has issued an alert over possible landslides in over 60 routes in parts of the Shimla district. These routes are not canceled but the people were advised to be careful.

These routes fall in regions more prone to landslides during monsoon. The night services to the upper regions of the capital were also canceled.

Moreover, the HRTC drivers were given liberty to assess the situation on a route and act accordingly.

Other than the buses, half a dozen houses, a few shops, and several other vehicles were also swept down the gorge. The landslide was massive and affected over 250 meters patch of the NH 154. While the house owners and shopkeepers were alarmed as some debris started to roll down prior to the landslide. Survivors and eyewitnesses said, they heard a thundering sound too.

Though, it is not confirmed why a huge portion of the hill broke apart, initially the administration expressed the possibility of a cloudburst.

Meanwhile, several stories including those of the survivors appeared in daily newspapers and online news portals.

Among survivors was a boy, Sunny, who was traveling on a bike with his friend. Sunny managed to escape while his friend was lost forever.

A woman, who had lost her husband last year, lost her two daughters and a son traveling in Chamba-Manali bus.

Mandi landslide survivors

Three girls also survived the terrifying incident. Two of them were discharged after some treatment while two others were referred to the Indira Gandhi Medical Collage, Shimla.

The State Health Department has announced a relief of Rs. 4 lakh to the families of the deceased while the Transport Minister had granted Rs. 1 lakh.

After the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the spot, the former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had also paid a visit.

NHAI and PWD Under Fire for Callousness

At the same time, ecologists, environmental activists, and organizations are criticizing the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the Public Works Department (PWD) for not conducting surveys in the regions that are more prone to landslides.

The majority of people agreed that Himachal’s ecology is much more sensitive than other parts of the world. The government can’t apply common norms and methods while widening the roads or digging tunnels through mountains.

The effect of unscientific cutting of hills for four-laning is clearly visible on Shimla-Kalka NH that has become landslide prone.

Such disasters could be averted if these authorities could learn from the previous landslide in the same region.

The Geological Survey of India regularly releases a list of high-risk zones. However, the state government of the NHAI never bothers to neutralize these threats.

Scientifically, say experts, it is possible to assess the possibility of a landslide from hills directly above the roads. Moreover, the region where this landslide wasted so many lives occurred has reported several landslides recently.

The government does announce monetary relief and pray for the well-being of the survivors but entirely neglect deeper contemplation over possible measures to loss of life and property.

Top Images: Tribune/ANI/Amar Uajal

Environment

The GHNP and Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary Ranked as Best Managed Protected Areas of India

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MEE Rank himachal pradesh GHNP

Shimla-The Great Himalayan National Park and Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) have been ranked as the best managed protected areas in India. Sainj WLS has also been placed among the top five Sanctuaries.

Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, on January 11 released Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Country. At present, India has a network of 903 Protected Areas in the country covering about 5% of the total geographic area of the country. The purpose of it was to assess the efficacy of Protected Areas, evaluation of management effectiveness.

The evaluation process was executed by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, in which  nation-wide 146 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, including 13 protected areas of Himachal Pradesh, were assessed through a team of evaluators. The score is given for various parameters including staff position, provision of financial resources, degree of protection, peoples’ participation and awareness of the communities towards the conservation values. Against a national average of 62 percent GHNP and Tirthan WLS scored a high of 84.17 percent while Sainj recorded 82.5 percent.

Currently, Himachal Pradesh has a network of 5 National Parks, 28 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 3 Conservation Reserves covering 8391.42 km2 which is 15 percent of the total geographical area of the state.

Top five and bottom five scored NP&WLS

Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries in India 2

Source: MEE Evaluation Report

According to this Evaluation three of the top five best managed Protected Areas in the country are from Himachal Pradesh. However, the Evaluation also mentioned weaknesses in management in these National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. (Scroll down for details info)

Top two highest and lowest scored NP&WLS in five regions

Managemaent Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries in India

Source: MEE Evaluation Report

What is Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE)?

Protected area (PA) management effectiveness evaluation (MEE) is defined as the assessment of how well NP&WLS are being managed—primarily, whether they are protecting their values and achieving the goals and objectives agreed upon.

The term ‘management effectiveness’ reflects three main themes of PA management -design issues relating to both individual sites and PA systems, the adequacy and appropriateness of management systems and processes, and delivery of the objectives of NP&WLS, including conservation of values.

 Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of Protected Areas (PAs) has emerged as a key tool for PA managers and is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.

MEE is a very important document that provides valuable guidance on various aspects of wildlife and protected area expand MEE of Marine Protected Areas. A new framework for MEE of Marine Protected Areas has been also jointly prepared by WII and MoEF&CC.

In recent years there has been a general concern amongst PA professionals and the public that many NP&WLS are failing to achieve their objectives and, in some cases, are actually losing the values for which they were established (Hockings et al. 2008).

As a result, improving the effectiveness of PA management has become a priority throughout the conservation community. Protected areas that are effectively managed generally lead to improved biodiversity outcomes.

However, only 20% (21,743 NP&WLS) of the total coverage of protected areas reported in the WDPA has been assessed for management effectiveness according to the Global Database on Protected Areas Management Effectiveness (UNEP-WCMC, IUCN and NGS 2018). The result indicated that only 17.5% of the countries have achieved the 60% score of management effectiveness (Coad et al. 2015).

Further, Javadekar also announced that from this year onwards 10 best National Parks, 5 coastal and Marine parks and top five Zoos in the country will be ranked and awarded every year.

Management Strengths and Weaknesses of National Parks and Wild Life Sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh

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Campus Watch

Proposed HPBOSE Date-Sheets for 8th, 10th, 12th Exams 2021 Issued, Objections Invited till Feb 10

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HPBOSE Exam Datesheet 2021

Shimla-Date-sheets for Class 10, 12, and 8 yearly examinations for the 2020-21 session have been released by the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education yesterday. These schedules would apply to both regular and State Open School (SOS) students. 

These are proposed date-sheets, which have been uploaded on the official HPBOSE website and objections have been invited from teachers, students, and parents. Objections can be mailed on [email protected] till 10 February 2021.

According to the proposed HPBOSE date-sheets, examinations for 10th class would be held from May 5 to May 20, 2021. For 12th class, exams would be held from May 4 to May 29. Exams for 8th class would be held from May 5 to May 19. While timings for class 10th and 8th would be 8:45 to 12 PM, class 12th exams would be conducted from 1:45 PM to 5 PM.

The Board has already decided that yearly examinations of HPBOSE for Class 10th and 12th for the session 2020-21 would not be conducted online. The decision was taken considering the fact that several regions of the state do not have Internet connectivity due to which students face difficulties.

HPBOSE Class 12 Date-Sheet 2021

HPBOSE Class 10 Date-Sheet 2021

HPBOSE Class 8 Date-Sheet 2021

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Misc News/Press Release

Himachal to Administer 93,000 Dozes to Frontline Workers in First Phase of COVID-19 Vaccination

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COVID-19 vaccination in himachal pradesh

Shimla-In the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination in Himachal Pradesh, 93 thousand dozes would be administered to front line warriors including health care workers of the State, Central Government and armed forces, informed the State Government on Tuesday. For this purpose, 46 sites have been selected all over the State, it said. The dozes are expected to arrive in the State during the next couple of days. 

The Government said that the State has received AD syringes in sufficient quantity as per beneficiary and has been distributed to the districts. An additional stock of 0.5 ml AD syringes has been stored at State Vaccine Store, Parimahal, Shimla, Regional Vaccine Store, Mandi and Regional Vaccine Store Dharamshala to meet out any situation, it said. 

A State ‘Vaccination Store’ has been set up at Shimla whereas regional vaccine store had been set up at Mandi and Dharamshala, it was informed.

District Vaccine Stores had been set up in all 12 districts of the State, besides 371 stores in Medical Colleges, block-level, CHC and PHCs.

The Government said that tentative vaccine allocation would be calculated for each launch site with an additional 10 percent wastage of vaccine. Vial once opened would be utilized within four hours. The second dose for the beneficiary would be secured –First in First Out with the current allocation.

Three phases of Dry Run for COVID-19 vaccination have been conducted on 2nd January 2021 at State Capital, on 8th January in all district headquarters and 11th January in the entire State, the Government informed.

The Government also said that Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) management training have been given to the session site vaccinators for establishing referral mechanism and report on COWIN app. AEFI Committees at State and District level have also been notified with additional members of Pulmonologist and Medicine Specialists for casualty assessment of AEFI cases and spokesperson workshop would be held on 13th January.

Further, the State Government has constituted State Level Steering Committee under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary, State Task Force chaired by Secretary Health, District Task Force by concerned Deputy Commissioner and Block Task Force chaired by respective SDM to monitor effective administration of vaccination of COVID-19.

No COVID-19 Death Reported on January 12

On Tuesday, according to the State Health Department, only 75 new cases were recorded in the State. As a sigh of relief, no COVID-19 death was reported. The tally for COVID-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh had reached 56596 till January 12, 2021.  So far, the pandemic has claimed 949 lives.

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