Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective compiled an extensive report titled “ State of the Rivers Report- Himachal Pradesh 2016” on the state of all five rivers and dire need to provide them protection from ecological destruction being carried out in the name of blind development.
Shimla: How much do you know about the rivers that owe their origin to Himalayan glaciers? How much do you know about the river basins in Himachal Pradesh?
A person with an average level general knowledge can tell that the state has five major river basins Satluj, Ravi, Beas, Chenab, and Yamuna.
The Giri and Tons are Yamuna’s tributaries originating in Himachal, which form a part of the Ganga river basin flowing westward.
The other four rivers are major tributaries of the eastward flowing Indus River – one of the longest in world (2000 miles or 3200 kilometres) with a flow twice the size of the Nile.
The Indus becomes a much larger river once it is joined by what is known as the ‘Punjab’ (literally meaning 5 rivers – Satluj, Ravi, Beas, Chenab, and Jhelum).
But how much we know what is happening to these rivers as they are now dammed, stressed out, tampered with and tunneled due to human activity or development. We have not cared about the rivers while harnessing it as a resource for our developmental activities.
These rivers are in a desperate need of rescue from clutches of ignorant humans. They need protection from a human activity known as “development”. Development is inevitable but we can make it more sustainable.
Along with fragmentation of the habitats, the diversion of the river flow to facilitate the hydropower projects, illegal and unscientific sand mining in excess, industrial pollution, unregulated construction etc. create a huge impact on the other life-forms that depend on these rivers, rare and endangered plants, and the livelihood of the local communities.
Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective has compiled an extensive report titled “ State of the Rivers Report- Himachal Pradesh 2016” on the state of all five rivers and dire need to provide them protection from ecological destruction being carried out in the name of blind development.
The organization said it is a preliminary document for the India Rivers Week. It provides some basic information on Himachal’s rivers and the threats they face.
The report has assessed that the surrounding ecology and livelihood of a local population is today most threatened by 41 big hydro and dam projects and 91 small and micro HEPs.
As per the report of the Cumulative Impacts (Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, 2015), in case of Himachal a total of 11665.346 ha have been diverted for different development activities after 1980. Out of it, 62% of the forest land has been diverted for construction of hydro electric projects and transmission lines.
Satluj basin has highest hydropower potential at 13,332 MW.
Already 9 large hydro projects are in operational stage with a total installed capacity of 5780 MW, which is more than 50% of total hydropower generation of the state.
The biggest hydropower projects of the country after Bhakra was the i.e. Nathpa Jhakri 1500 MW in the public sector and Karcham Wangtoo 1000 MW in the private sector built by Jaypee group which also constructed Baspa II of 300 MW.
So from Karchham onwards the river has been reduced to a trickle as Satluj is diverted in a 17 km long tunnel. Further downstream is Nathpa Jhakri, followed by the 412 MW Rampur project which was commissioned recently. Next was the 750 MW Luhri dam which is now in the doldrums following local opposition. After this comes the 800 MW Kol Dam which located in Bilaspur district Kol Dam has an installed capacity of 800 MW and got commissioned in 2015.
Next was the 750 MW Luhri dam which is now in the doldrums following local opposition. After this comes the 800 MW Kol Dam, located in Bilaspur district. Kol Dam has an installed capacity of 800 MW and got commissioned in 2015.
The number of lakes in the Satluj basin rose from a mere 38 in 1994 to 390 in 2014 due to glacial melting, says a 2014 report of the HP State Centre on Climate Change, State Council for Science Technology & Environment. The lakes poses potential threat of flashfloods.
Although the number of lakes has remained stagnant during the last two years, this region has some of the biggest lakes. There are 10 lakes with areas more than 10 hectares and 45 with an area between five to 10 hectares, the report said.
According to the report, the Beas, Satluj, Yamuna and Ravi are the most threatened river basins.
Based on its report, Himdhara has urged the government to design an effective River Protection Plan. Chenab and Spiti should be allowed to flow freely like Tirthan.
In this report we have focused on highlighting the key information about Himachal’s rivers, pointing out the threats that these rivers are facing. We compare the health of these rivers based on the extent of threat that they face,
said Himdhara activist.
The identified key threats include developments which are interfering with river flows, hampering riverine ecology and changing the nature of the river and dependencies around it, said the report.
These include hydropower development, Sand Mining, Pollution due to tourism, urbanisation, industrialisation and climatic changes.
We have studied each of these developments for the five river basins and made a threat projection – Critical, moderate or low,
said a Himdhara activist.
The Chenab as of now and Upper Satluj, with Spiti as the main tributary along with parts of Beas, like the Tirthan are the only wild and free-flowing rivers in the State.
There are streams and rivers in small stretches that are pristine but small hydro projects are have been planned around most of them.
Parts of the Tons and Giri tributaries, known for their Mahaseer fish, are under threat due to the dams.
The report recommends that the blue or wild rivers need to be protected from the threats and a plan of action needs to be prepared and executed for the same.
At the same time, the areas where there is a moderate threat, extensive efforts are required from the regulatory agencies – the Forest Department, Pollution Control Board and the State Environment Department.
A thorough ‘State of the Rivers Report’ should assess the social, cultural, economic values of these rivers and how they have changed historically, carrying out a detailed study based on primary data as well as secondary research from a variety of sources,
said Himdhara activist.
Moreover, it is the communities which depend on these rivers, therefore, they could best describe the changes that have occurred over time. Any assessment would be incomplete without a people’s voice in it.
Most textbooks and articles largely highlight the magnitude of the Himalayan river systems and move on to speak about it anthropocentrically like the energy generation and irrigation potential, to harness them as a source to pursue the never-ending process of development.
People rarely see them as riverine ecosystems that are already providing services and supporting the living beings.
Himdhara expects the report to generate interest and a debate amongst communities as well as policymakers and researchers about the urgency to protect the Himalayan rivers.
Today, we speak of interlinking these rivers but fail to see the existing natural inter-linkages not just between the rivers but also among all life forms, the benefits of which are being drawn by humans.
The Himalayan rivers are older than or as young as the Himalayas themselves. And yet, despite being so powerful and revered, all the life they support, these rivers are vulnerable.
This vulnerability is rarely spoken of. The slightest variation and changes in temperature, flow, course, and composition of the rivers impact their surroundings.
Himachal: Report Forest Fires on Toll-Free Numbers 1077 and 1070
Shimla-Forest fire is a recurrent annual phenomenon in Himachal Pradesh and causes losses worth several crores every year. Dry spell and summers make forests, especially chir pine forests, highly vulnerable to forest fires. These forest fires not only damage the forest wealth but also hit wildlife and biodiversity in general. The forest department attributes most fires to human factors.
Like every year, the forest department has claimed that it is all geared up and ready to combat forest fires this year too. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Dr. Savita on Monday held a virtual review meeting with Forest Circles on preparedness for forest fires in the state.
She said that the Forest department was well prepared to fight the forest fires and a rapid forest fire fighting force and rapid response teams had been set up at forest division and range levels.
“Approximately 40,000 man-days of fire watchers would be engaged by the department in addition to existing frontline staff for preventing and combating forest fires,” she said. The state disaster control room with toll-free number 1077 at the state level and 1070 at the district level were operational for reporting of the forest fire by the local community, she informed.
Dr. Savita said messages regarding forest fire had been shared with the members of the rapid forest fire fighting force, in which approximately 50,000 volunteers had already been registered. Awareness to the community was also conducted through Nukkar Nataks, songs, speeches and other activities at different locations in the state. Besides, a massive state-level awareness program was also conducted at 45 places from 10 to 17 March 2021
She said that the department had created forest fire lines and did control burning and also constructed water storage structures in the forest areas to combat forest fires. Additional multi-utility vehicles and water loaded tankers in 80 fire-sensitive ranges had been engaged for three months. She that matter regarding Standard Operating Systems (SOPs) for requisition of helicopter services for dousing the forest fires had been sent to the Government for approval.
Feature Photo: Unsplash@Thematthoward
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: Daily New COVID-19 Cases Crosses 1000 Mark, State Govt Directs Admins & Police to Show Strictness in Implementing SOPs
HP Govt Makes RT-PCR Negative Report Mandatory for People Arriving from Seven States
Himachal Pradesh: 662 New Cases & 7 Deaths in 24 Hours, Over 4500 Cases & 55 Deaths in 9 Nine Days
HP Cabinet Decisions: Educational Institutes Closed Till April 21 Amid COVID-19 Surge, No Decision on Other Restrictions
Tourist Influx Worries Himachal as Deadlier Variant of COVID-19 Confirmed in 80% of Samples in Punjab
Una Murder Case: Body of 22-Year-Old Girl Exhumed, Enraged Villagers Create Ruckus
No Fairs, Restriction on Social Gathering, Strict Adherences to Masks and Social Distancing: HP Govt
Resurgence of COVID-19 Spread Worries Himachal Amid Fear of ‘Second Wave’ in Country
News1 month ago
HP Budget 2021-22 Highlights: No New Taxes Proposed, Target to Fill up 30,000 Functional Posts, Hikes in Various Honorariums
News1 month ago
HP Economic Survey 2020-21: Himachal Reports 6.2% Negative Growth, Estimated 3.6% Drop in Per Capita Income, 81.33% Contraction in Tourism Sector
HW Community2 months ago
Shimla: Heavy Price Hike in Food, Tea, Snacks, Admin Says It No More Has Power to Regulate Rates
Personalities1 day ago
News2 months ago
Ugly Brawl at HP Vidhan Sabha on Budget Session’s Opening Day, Five Congress Legislators Suspended for Rest of Session
HW Community1 month ago
Here is What CM Jairam and MLA Dhawala Said While Proposing Legalization of Cannabis (Hemp) Cultivation in Himachal
News1 month ago
Rising Himachal Global Investors Meet’s Key Investor B.R. Shetty’s Assets Frozen Worldwide by a UK Court
News3 weeks ago