Shimla: A considerable number of people in various districts of Himachal Pradesh have begun to find relief as the implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 has picked up some momentum during last few months.
Activists and organizations had been demanding the implementation of FRA for several years now. The government was supposed to implement them long before, but it did not. Now, after a long struggle, the campaigns and protests are yielding results.
During the last couple of months, the government has granted recognition and titles in several claims made from various districts.
Chamba and Lahaul-Spiti are two leading districts in receiving these titles under the act. These titles imply that the individual and community user rights over land under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department are now legally recognized.
Last month, on the 70th Independence Day the Health & Family Welfare Minister Kaul Singh Thakur distributed land titles to16 individuals under the FRA, 2006 in Lahaul and Spiti district.
After Chamba, where seven community titles over 1890 hectare and 53 individual titles have been recognized and vested, Lahaul-Spiti has become the second district where people have granted titles under FRA 2006.
During last month, eight titles were given in Stingri village, seven in Shooling village, and one in Gondhala village. These titles were given to the families which had their houses constructed on forest land before December 13, 2005.
Earlier in the year, the administration cut the electricity connections here on the basis of the State High Court order on illegal encroachments on the forest land.
Kangra district reported the highest number of filed claims under individual and community rights at 81 and 43 respectively. However, these claims from Baijnath, Palampur and Dharamshala Tehsils, are yet to be recognised.
Despite the fact that some of these claims were filed as long back as 2014, the administration has taken no decision on them.
It was made possible with the combined effort of the district administration, Himachal Van Adhikar Manch a state level alliance of organizations working on the implementation of FRA 2006 in Himachal and with active support from Ravi Thakur, MLA from Lahaul and Spiti district,
said Rigzin Hyreppa from “Save Lahaul and Spiti”. He is coordinating the process of implementation of FRA 2006 in the district.
This is an encouraging step and it will help in furthering the spread of FRA 2006 not only in Lahaul and Spiti but in other parts of Himachal too. We look forward to the recognition of claims in Kangra District now, where we have put in a great deal of work in facilitating the process of claim filing,
said Prakash Bhandari from HVAM.
The decision taken by the State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) held on July 25, 2017, has given a lot of hope. It clearly instructs all the DCs to make all the efforts to finalize community rights, as the rights of communities are well recorded so it will not be difficult for them to be recognized under FRA 2006,
said the convenor of HVAM Akshay Jasrotia.
To obtain the recognition of rights, the SLMC has formulated provisions for the training of the line department staff involved in the implementation of FRA 2006.
Himachal Counts 108,578 Waterbirds of 96 Species This Year With Increase in Habitat
Shimla-The habitat of migratory and resident water-birds in Himachal Pradesh has gradually improved, said Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania.
The annual water-bird count at Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was conducted in the first of February, 2021 and the exercise was conducted under restrained conditions due to the prevailing Avian Influenza outbreak in Pong Dam Lake as well as the COVID-19 Pandemic, he said.
The exercise was conducted by Wildlife wing of Himachal Pradesh by deploying 57 staff members in 26 sections of the sanctuary for counting the water-dependent birds.
Total 108,578 birds of 96 species were counted during this year. Out of the total number, 101,431 of 51 species are water-dependent migratory birds and 6,433 of 29 species are water-dependent resident birds. As many as 714 birds of 16 other species were also recorded. The total population of the flagship species, Bar-Headed Geese, is 40,570.
The other species which have higher population count during this year are Eurasian Coot (24,163), Northern Pintail (12,702), Common Teal (8,444), Little Cormorant (3,649), Great Cormorant (3,410), Grey Lag Goose (2,297), Northern Shoveler (2,275) and Common Pochard (2,138). The species which find noticeable mention are Red Necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Lesser White-Fronted Goose, Red Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Pied Avocet, Northern Lapwing, Peregrine Falcon etc. During the counting exercise, one Bar-headed Goose and one Grey Lag Goose with collars were also spotted.
This year the Annual bird count exercise assumes significance, considering the Avian Influenza outbreak in the Wildlife Sanctuary. Further, the Minister expressed satisfaction over the timely and effective containment measures taken by Wildlife Wing to control and contain Avian Influenza outbreak in the Wildlife Sanctuary.
PCCF (Wildlife) Archana Sharma and CCF Wildlife (North) Dharamshala Upasana Patial also participated and supervised the Annual Water Bird Count.
The total population of birds, as well as number of species, counted this year are marginally less as compared to last year, probably due to the impact of Avian Influenza outbreak which was first reported on 28th December 2020.
Although the total population of water birds declined during the peak of the Avian Influenza outbreak, there is a gradual increase in the total population of birds, the Minister informed.
Himachal First State to Complete Assessment of Snow Leopard and its Wild Prey
Shimla-The assessment of snow leopard population in Himachal Pradesh has been completed by the state wildlife wing in collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore following the protocol aligning with the SPAI (Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India) protocols of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Himachal Pradesh has become the first state to complete assessment of snow leopard and its wild prey.
The state has an estimated population of up to 73 snow leopards.
It is the first scientifically robust estimate of snow leopards and its prey for the State. Since snow leopard is the state animal, the study assumes great significance for Himachal Pradesh.
The exercise revealed that snow leopard density ranged from 0.08 to 0.37 individuals per 100 sq.km., with the trans-Himalayan regions of Spiti, Pin valley and upper Kinnaur recording the highest densities, both of the predator and its prey, mainly ibex and blue sheep.
This study covered the entire potential snow leopard habitat of Himachal Pradesh: an area of 26,112 sq.km., utilising a stratified sampling design. Camera trapping surveys were conducted at 10 sites to representatively sample all the strata i.e. high, low and unknown. The camera trap deployment over the mountainous terrains was led by a team of eight local youth of Kibber village and more than 70 frontline staff of HPFD were trained in this technique as part of the project. Snow leopards were detected at all the 10 sites (Bhaga, Chandra, Bharmour, Kullu, Miyar, Pin, Baspa, Tabo, Hangrang & Spiti) suggesting that snow leopards are found in the entire snow leopard habitat in Himachal Pradesh either as resident individuals of a population or as dispersing individuals navigating through these connecting habitats.
Another revelation from the study is that a bulk of snow leopard occurrence is outside protected areas, reiterating the fact that local communities are the strongest allies for conservation in snow leopard landscapes.
The NCF and wildlife wing collaborated in the effort and it took three years to complete the assessment. MoEFCC had launched the First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India, on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day. You can read the complete protocol here.
Snow leopard is the icon of high mountains of Asia. In India, they inhabit the higher Himalayan and TransHimalayan landscape in an altitudinal range between approximately 3,000 m to 5,400 m above MSL, spanning c. 100,000 km2 in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This area contributes to about 5% of the global snow leopard range.
Snow leopards occur over a vast, relatively remote and difficult to access mountainous area. Together with their elusive nature, this makes a complete population census of snow leopards an unfeasible goal. Even their distribution remains unclear. For example, recent surveys show that they do not occur in 25 % of the area that was thought to be their range in the state of Himachal Pradesh Their density is expected to be variable in space, dependent on several factors such as habitat suitability, prey availability, disturbance and connectivity. Variation in density across space also poses the risk of biased sampling, and, indeed, most of the snow leopard population assessments conducted so far across the world are biased towards the best habitats.
Feature Photo: Pexels/Charles Miller
Himachal Gets First Fully Automated ‘Doppler Weather Radar’, Would Provide More Accurate Short Range Forecast
Shimla-India Meteorological Department (IMD) January 15, 2021, celebrated its 146th Foundation Day. IMD is one of the oldest, scientific service organizations in the country, in existence well before Independence.
On the occasion, Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated Doppler Weather Radars at Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand and Kufri, Himachal Pradesh; Multi-Mission Meteorological Data Receiving and Processing System in IMD in collaboration with ISRO (MMDRPS).
According to the IMD, these modernized Radars would give a more specific short-range weather forecast.
It’s pertinent to mention that accurate and advance weather information is of utmost importance to Himachal Pradesh – a state largely dependent on agriculture and tourism.
The one installed in Kufari, Shimla, is Indigenous dual polarised X-Band Doppler Weather Radar. Two more Radars would be installed at Mandi and Dalhousie in Chamba district of the State. A site had already been finalized at Mandi and a site for Radar at Dalhousie would be finalized soon, the State Government informed.
This specific type of Radar uses the Doppler effect to gather velocity data. The Radar transmits a signal, which gets reflected when hits a raindrop. Based on the changes in the frequency of the reflected signal, data is obtained about the motion of droplets and intensity of the precipitation. Scientists can analyze this data to determine the structure and severity of storms.
Radar installed at Kufri is on test mode for a period of two weeks. Thereafter its data would be used for forecasting purposes. This Radar has a range upto 100 kilometres in radial distance. It would observe and provide the weather data of 100 kilometres in all directions, which would be used for forecasting purpose, especially for the short-range forecast. More précised area-specific weather forecast and warning can be issued for a particular place, for the weather phenomenon like thunderstorm, lighting, hailstorm, heavy rainfall/snowfall, gusty winds etc.
This Centre would help the horticulturists and farmers of the State by providing them with accurate weather information.
The DWR Kufri would run round the clock and it is fully automatic. It would transmit the data in various digital format and picture form.
Union Minister for Earth Sciences, Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan today inaugurated the first Doppler Weather radar in Himachal Pradesh installed at Kufri pic.twitter.com/jaayu08MSf
— ANI (@ANI) January 15, 2021
Forecasting monsoons is the lifeline to India’s food security and affect the economy as the nation’s GDP is dependent on agriculture. Moreover, weather prediction is critical to reducing the loss of lives from various extreme events like a cyclone, heavy rain, thunderstorm, heatwave and cold wave, monsoonal floods and droughts.
India Meteorological Department says that it is modernizing its observational network in the Central and Western Himalayas by the installation of Doppler Weather Radars in a phased manner, at different locations.
IMD said that this radar will be providing severe weather information to the weather forecasters, thus, improving the safety of the public in the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. It will also provide support to the disaster managers and the pilgrims undertaking the pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar and Char Dham yatra.
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