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Shocking video/photos expose Govt Officer’s lies about illegal slate mining in Dharamshala

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Illegal mining in Dharamshala

Shimla: Advocate Deven Khanna, the local commissioner appointed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court in a petition relating to violation of environmental and other construction guidelines and the illegal felling of trees within the area of Municipal Corporation, Dharamshala including Bhagsunag, Mclodgunj, and Dharmkot in Dharamshala, busted the alleged lies of the Mining Officer regarding the alleged illegal mining activity in the Khanyara region.  

This illegal mining was costing the state crores of rupees per month in terms of revenue in addition to environmental damages. 

The pictures and video posted below show an area which is victim to a completely illegal mining. The visuals speak for the destruction this region has witnessed due to a nexus of the government officials and mining mafia. 

Deven had visited the sites between April 14 to 22nd of April 22, 2018, and had photographed Khaniyara region and exposed the alleged white lie of the Mining Officer.

Himachal Watcher was able to obtain these photos and a video of effect region from official and non-official sources.

On the basis of this visual evidence, the bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel on April 25, 2018, had observed:

Prima facie, we are of the considered view that the explanation furnished by Harvinder Singh, Mining Officer who is present in Court with regard to the illegal mining carried out in Khanyara Panchayat is false. According to him, neither any illegal mining is being carried out at Khanyara nor has he ever received any complaint.

While the photos and video exposed the ground reality, the mining officer had filed replies in the court regarding blasting and illegal mining activities in Khanyara area claiming that no such business is going on in the said region. He further added that the mining activity was completely under control. Apparently, the officer was caught trying to allegedly protect the mafia. 

For now, the said official was transferred following it. The court had asked the state government to take action against the said official, which was still pending.

As per the tradition of the governments, their employees rarely get penalized for even grieve matters like submitting a false statement to the court regarding a very crucial environmental issue.  

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The mining officer had stated that frequent site visits were conducted in the Khaniyara area to check the Slate Mining activities. He said a Mining Inspector has been specifically deputed in this area to keep a strict vigil.

In addition to the routine visits, surprise inspections were also being conducted by the officers of the department and during the sites visits, no case of the blasting has been observed or reported or no complaint of the blasting has been received, the mining officer told the court.

Khanyara illegal mining photos 4

The illegal mining of slates in this area has been controlled to a larger extent and no case of the illegal extraction has been reported for the last one year,

the statement of the officer said. 

Upon the visit of the said locations, it was discovered that illegal mining was still rampant at Khaniyara Road, the information was verified by officers of the MC and local people. The site was visited and it was discovered that blasting and careless dumping of the mine debris had caused irreparable damage to the downslope vegetation, choked the streams and accelerated surface erosion, said Deven’s report rubbishing all these false claims.

Khanyara illegal mining photos

So serious was the environmental damage that a major portion of the mountain had a bombed-out desolate look. The patches were seen on the mountains due to the rampant mining for slate deposits which had spelt ecological disaster, the report said. Apart from threatening human settlements in the foothills, the activity had also eaten up large chunks of the forest, the report further said.

Khanyara illegal mining photos 7

It was pointed out in the report that the mining had cut into the forest area labourers were working under hazardous conditions because of the excessive use of dynamite in total violation of the Mines Safety Act.

Khanyara illegal mining photos 13

Deven’s report had further stated that mining in these areas is haphazard and the procedure adopted for mining is totally unscientific without using any standard mine plan maps or contour map or any standard method of national or international agencies.

Khanyara illegal mining photos 3

The slates are extracted either manually by using crowbars, chisels or by using local explosive for blasting. Unscientific excavation and use of high power explosives have resulted in cracking and loosening of the overlying rock formation, the report said.

The villages below the mining sites often experience flying rocks and rock fall which results in a number of causalities. Further, most of the area is under the protected forest demarcated by the Department of Forest, Himachal Pradesh and has been exploited in an unauthorized and illegal manner.

No reclamation measures such as the construction of check dams or retaining wall to check the erosional activity or other safety measures related to blasting are being adopted,

said the report. 

Slate mining has blotted the serene beauty of the forests of the area. Mining activities in these areas have caused the degradation of vegetation and soil cover, destruction of agricultural land and the encroachment of forest land, further leading to the deterioration of water resources, increase in erosional activities, silting of streams (Figure XVII), and massive landslides,

the report said.

The claims of the government regarding check on illegal mining, unlawful construction, and environmental conservation appears to be false or misleading considering the above report.

While in press statements, the government never misses the opportunity to add “Govt is committed to protect and conserve the environment,” the official machinery seems to be trying to protect the violators and for that, they are not reluctant to even file false replies in the court.

Khanyara illegal mining photos 12

The court has expressed its disappointment with the government officials multiple times while hearing the current petition that was filed by in 2015 by a whistle-blower Ghazala Abdullah. 

The original petition had requested the attention of the court towards environmental destruction for illegal construction. By 2018, the scopes of the petition were widened to accommodate more issues pertaining to similar matters.

Several crucial violations and facts appeared during the hearing of the petition, which would be covered in separate articles on Himachal Watcher. The next hearing in the petition is scheduled for July 30. 

Khanyara illegal mining photos 8

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Further, Deven in his extensive report had included following crucial suggestion to fix the environmental damages caused by illegal mining:

  1. Mined debris or the slate waste over the slope should be removed in order to bring back the regolith cover.
  2. The area should be seeded with quick growing grass and preference should be given to local species and mixed culture. Although the best plant known and used worldwide to stop the erosion is Vetiver. It not only holds soil on the mountain side but it creates its own terraces by collecting leaves, debris and eroded soil from above it. In addition to vetiver, a perennial grass known as Nash (vetiveria zizanioide) can also be grown.
  3. The mining area can also be restored by hydroseeding. This technique involves the spraying of soils, organic matter, grass seeds, adhesives and water in a fixed proportion which is kept in a slurry tank. The application of mixture is done at a pressure on a slope. Such technique is successfully adopted in the reclamation of limestone and rock phosphate mines in Dehradun and Mussoorie region (35).
  4. Mining should be avoided where there is a steep slope i.e. the slope angle is more than 45°. Check dams and gabion structure should be constructed to check the flow of soil, waste and debris along the hill slope.
  5. The problem of mining debris can be solved by utilizing it in making concrete blocks as it is eco-friendly and economically viable too and will also serve as a source of employment for the local population.
  6. Another important use of slate waste lies in the manufacturing of pipe, sheets and roofing plus flooring products as substitutes for asbestos in the asbestos The advantage of slate as an alternative to asbestos is that asbestos is a fibrous material and cause cancer. Hence, the use of slate can be accepted in the asbestos industry.

 

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 7 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 world around him in his DSLR lens.

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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