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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.    

Campus Watch

HIMCOSTE PLS: Eminent scientist & activist Dr Vandana Shiva to speak at Shimla on July 17

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Navdanya founder dr shiva

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Council for Science Technology and Environment (HIMCOSTE), Shimla is organising Popular Lecture Series (PLS) under its Science Popularisation programme.

This programme started under Science Popularisation since 2017 for Science students of Govt. Degree Colleges of all the Districts of Himachal Pradesh. The programme is funded by Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, under the Science Day and Mathematics Day celebration.

Eminent speakers/scientists are invited to address students so that they are motivated for taking up Science & Technology and work for the betterment of the community.
This series of lectures will be organised in the first phase at the:

  1. Government Degree College (GDC), Sanjauli, Shimla on July 17
  2. GDC Bilaspur on August 1
  3. GDC Hamirpur on August 2
  4. GDC Nathan on August 8
  5. GDC Solan August 9

Following five renowned and eminent scientists and environmental activist will deliver lectures :

  1. Dr Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya
  2. Retd. Prof. PK Ahluwalia, Department of Physics HP University
  3. Dr Patrick Das Gupta, Department of Physics & Astrophysics University of Delhi
  4. Dr Kiran Katoch, Dr AS Paintal Chair (ICMR) IIHMR University, Jaipur
  5. Dr Ravi Chopra, Director Peoples Science Institute Dehradun
  6. Dr Rajeev Kumar Puri, Department of Physics University of Punjab

 

The second phase in other Districts would be organised in September and October 2018.

Dr Vandana Shiva at Sanjauli College on sustainable Mountain Agriculture & Organic Farming

The First lecture in this series would be delivered by Dr Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya – a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seeds and to promote organic farming and fair trade

For the last two decades, Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations serving more than 5,00,000 men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in conservation of more than 3000 rice varieties from all over the country and have established 60seed banks in 16 states across the country.

In 2004, she started Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living in Doon Valley in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K.

Dr Shiva combines the sharp intellectual enquiry with courageous activism. She is equally at ease working with peasants in rural India and teaching in Universities worldwide.

Time Magazine identified Dr Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003 and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. Forbes magazine in November 2010 has identified Dr Vandana Shiva as one of the top seven most Powerful Women on the Globe.

The topic of the talk by Dr Vandana Shiva would be “Sustainable Mountain Agriculture & Organic Farming” at Govt. Degree College, Sanjauli on July 17, 2018, where 1000 science students are expected to get benefitted by this talk. The Science faculty of Sanjauli College would attend this talk.

Kunal Satyarthi, IFS Member Secretary HIMCOSTE, will be present on the occasion.

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Environment

15 lakh saplings planted in Himachal by 80,000 people in 3 days, claims Forest Minister

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15 lakh sapling planted in Himachal Pradesh on van mahotsav

Shimla: The Forest Minister Govind Singh Thakur today said that three days statewide plantation campaign from 12 to 14 July 2018 was launched in the State and more than 15 lakh saplings were planted in different parts of the State.

He said that the campaign was undertaken in all 13 Forest Circles in the state and Forty-one Forest Divisions participated in the campaign. Plantations were performed at 600 sites of the state. Chamba Forest Division with 99,281 plants was at First position followed by Ani and Rampur Forest Divisions with 81,369 and 80,059 plants respectively.

More than six lakh deodar species were planted beside broad leave and other conifers. He said that the entire plantation campaign was monitored online.

He said that all walks of life including school children, women, senior citizen and youth comprising 80000 people actively participated in the campaign. Plantation activities were performed from the boundaries of the state in the north with Jammu and Kashmir to Yamuna River in south and Kinnaur district in the east to boundaries of the state with Punjab in the west, he added.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had inaugurated state level Van Mahotsav on July 10 from Rajgargh in Sirmaur district. Governor Acharya Devvrat also participated in the campaign at Nehra in Shimla District on July 13 2018.

He said that plantation activities are still going on and it is expected that total 17 lakh plants will be planted by the end of the campaign.

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Campus Watch

Van Mahotsav 2018: Nauni varsity plants over 500 trees at campus

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UHF Nauni on van mahotsav 2018

Solan: Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jai Ram Thakur today inaugurated the Van Mahotsav at the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni.

He planted a sapling of an ornamental tree-Crape Myrtle, at the university’s main gate.

Later in the day, UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr HC Sharma addressed the university staff and students. He thanked the Chief Minister and other dignitaries for launching the plantation drive of the university.

Jai Ram Thakur on Van Mahotsav 2018

CM Jai Ram Thakur watering a newly planted tree at UHF Nauni

While explaining the importance of trees for the survival of humankind, Dr Sharma called for collective efforts to conserve existing forests and undertake plantation in newer areas. He said that Van Mahotsav was an event, which not only connected everyone with nature but was also an important requirement in today’s times.

Dr Sharma also called for the support of the all the university employees and students in ensuring the survivability of all the plants.

The participants undertook a plantation drive at the university campus in which over 500 trees of Melia Composita, a fast-growing tree was planted near the staff residences of the university.

The local branches of the State Bank of India and UCO Bank along with various societies also supported and took part in the programme.

Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker Dr Rajeev Bindal, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Virender Kanwar, Forest Minister Govind Thakur, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Dr. Rajiv Saizal and Member of Parliament Sh. Virender Kashyap also carried out plantation on the occasion.

Chief Minister presided over the 69th State Level Van Mahotsav at Churwadhar in Rajgarh area of Pachhad Assembly Constituency in Sirmour district.

He said that 15 lakh sapling would be planted in the 596 selected places in the State witan h active participation of the people. He said that although about 67 per cent area of the State was covered with forests still lot more needed to be done.

The State government was endeavouring that everyone adopts a tree as “Gotra Tree” and help to conserve and protect it. This would motivate the people particularly the younger generation to conserve our environment. He also urged the student to help in environmental conservation.

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