Shimla: The seven-member committee constituted to probe the matter pertaining to a video that showed an enormous amount of plastic/solid waste floating in Ashwani Khud – the main drinking water supply source to Solan – could not ascertain the origin or culprit responsible for it.
The committee headed by the Environmental Engineer of the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board (HPPCB), Surender Shandil, was formed after the National Green Tribunal took suo motto cognizance of the disturbing video clip shot by a local youth Abhay Sharma and uploaded on social media by the Healing Himalayas – a non-profit organization.
The video had gone viral on the social media and reached the national media. The video was retweeted over 1,000 times.
It hardly rained in Himalayas and outcome is this. Who to blame us or them ? This is Ashwani khad and water supply source of Shimla & Solan. Very close to it is Solan cities solid waste dumpyard ( salogra) @RandeepHooda @jairamthakurbjp @ErikSolheim @deespeak @AUThackeray pic.twitter.com/FSZ3TJi2mB
— healing himalayas (@healinghimalaya) July 15, 2018
Abhay is self-employed and is also a member of the NGO, who took up the issue despite fearing that the administration might come after his business following the consequences of the blowing whistle. Abhay decided to fight for the cause and came ahead to rubbish government’s claims that the video was fake.
This whistleblower indeed made a difference. This video clipped had shocked everyone who saw it. It won’t be wrong to say that he sounded an alarm for all the Himalayan water sources/rivers.
Following it, the Tribunal had asked the Board to file a report regarding it within a week.
While district administration of Shimla and most of the government agencies had washed their hands off by simply terming the video clip as a fake, the team first verified that the video was indeed real. The video was recorded in Neri village and the panel has recorded the statements of the locals too.
In fact, the people were not able to believe that it could happen in a State like Himachal. They prayed the video to be fake but to their demise, it was not.
The locals have confirmed that it has become a routine to see solid waste floating in the Khud, but the situation was way far intense this time.
The PCB’s Engineer told Himachal Watcher that the inquiry was completed, and its report would be submitted to the Tribunal. Though the report is not made public yet, Mr Shandil suggested that there is a high probability that the waste could have entered the stream from a large number of nullahs in the catchment area located in Shimla district.
The catchment area of the Khud is so large and there are so many nullahs within it that it was hard to spot a specific source. It has been raining heavily and there could be several reasons for the flooding of waste in it,
Mr. Shandil told HW.
He further suggested that during their visits to the catchment area, they did see garbage being washed away by rainwater and entering the nullahs.
The report would be finalized by today evening and submitted to the Tribunal,
The panel has also suggested that the waste could have emanated from the dumping ground in Slogra in Solan.
Earlier, the panel was suggesting that the garbage could have been dumped into the stream from a spot like Sadhupul through dumpers.
However, there was no word regarding the discharge of the sewerage that was reported by Abhay. Abhay had told HW that the video could only show the solid waste floating on the water and could not give an idea of the smell of sewage that the water of the Khud was carrying with itself in addition to the garbage.
HW had posted additional video clips recorded on the same day by different individuals. One of the clips shows the water had turned dark in colour, which Abhay said, was due to sewage.
The probe in the deadly jaundice outbreak in 2015, in which about three dozen people were killed, had revealed that the contractor of the Sewage Treatment Plant in Malyna, Shimla, was releasing a large amount of untreated sewage into Ashwani Khud, which was the cause of the outbreak.
The Shimla Municipal Corporation had suspended the supply from Ashwani Khud following this deliberate genocide.
However, during the water scarcity in May-June this year, the SMC had resumed the supply from the Khud despite the fact that water samples were failing quality tests.
It is to be seen whether the PCB has also included sewage discharge in its inquiry report or not.
Further, as per the whistle-blower, the garbage flooded the Khud only when it rained heavy in Shimla.
HW had also posted a video showing two nullahs located below the Krishna Nagar colony in Lalpani of Shimla city, which were entirely covered with solid waste. A number of nullahs including the one near the lift on Cart-Road could be seen filled with garbage, which flows down to the Khud with rainwater.
Other than that, the former Mayor of Shimla, Sanjay Chauhan, had also pointed out the nullahs in the catchment area where a large amount of solid waste collected from panchayats is dumped.
However, the Deputy Commissioner of Shimla, Amit Kashyap had told HW that there is no such problem in the areas of Shimla falling under various panchayats. The waste management was perfectly fine in both the rural as well as in the city, he had claimed.
The PCB’s report, if the initial information is to be believed, largely suggests that poor or no solid waste management in Shimla’s catchment could be blamed for it.
The Ashwani Khad episode has raised concerns about the ill attitude of the locals, tourists, and the government towards the growing problem of managing solid waste in the State.
Littering by tourists along National Highway 21 also produce a large amount of garbage which ends up in nullahs. The civic body or the local administrations hardly have any strategies in hand to deal with littering and unlawful dumping of garbage.
At the same time, the matter also questions awareness and the inaction of State PCB regarding poor solid waste management and improper dumping in the State.
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.
The GHNP and Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary Ranked as Best Managed Protected Areas of India
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
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
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
Himachal Bans Import of Poultry Products from Other States, Migratory Bird Death Toll Reaches 4324
Shimla-Import of poultry products to Himachal Pradesh from other States has been banned for a week, the State Government informed today. The step was taken in order to ensure that the Bird Flu (Avian Influenza) infection does spread from other States through poultry products.
According to the Government, the “Bird Flu death toll” for migratory birds has reached 4324. The Government said that about 65 rapid response teams of Animal Husbandry and Wild Life departments were regularly monitoring the Pong Dam and adjoining areas. It said that keeping in view the intensity of Bird Flu, samples of poultry have been sent to RDDL Jalandhar by Animal Husbandry Department.
Further, recently 1000 dead domestic poultry birds were found dumped in Dharampur Sub Division of Solan district, which were disposed of by deep burial and area was being sanitized as per protocol, it was informed. Samples of these dead birds have been sent to RDDL Jallandhar for diagnosis.
Further, it was informed that 215 other birds were also found dead in various parts of the State till date.
Officers have been asked to keep a strict vigil on birds alongside reservoirs and people to sensitize about proper handling of poultry products.
The Government has requested the people to inform the Animal Husbandry and Wild Life Departments if any dead bird is found in their areas.
Bird Flu Confirmed in 10 States
According to the official statement released by the Government of India, till January 11, 2021, Avian Influenza was confirmed in 10 states of the country. ICAR- NIHSAD has confirmed death of crows and migratory/wild birds in Tonk, Karauli, Bhilwara districts of Rajasthan; and Valsad, Vadodara and Surat districts of Gujarat. Further, death of crows was confirmed in Kotdwar and Dehradun districts of Uttarakhand. In Delhi, crows and ducks, respectively, were reported dead in New Delhi and Sanjay lake areas.
Additionally, an outbreak of Avian influenza has been among poultry in Parbhani district where 800 hens died of the Flu. Also, the Flu is confirmed from Mumbai, Thane, Dapoli, Beed in crows in Maharashtra.
Culling of Infected Birds Underway in Haryana
In Haryana, culling of infected birds is underway for the control and containment of the spread of the disease. A Central team has visited Himachal Pradesh and will reach Panchkula on 11 January 2021 for carrying out monitoring the epicentre sites and conducting epidemiological investigation.
States have been requested to build awareness among the public and avoid the spread of misinformation. States/ UTs have been requested to increase surveillance around water bodies, live bird markets, zoos, poultry farms, etc. along with proper disposal of carcasses and strengthening of bio-security in poultry farms.
The States have been asked to maintain adequate stock of PPE kits and accessories required for culling operations, Secretary, DAHD, requested.
Feature Photo: unsplash@relentlessjpg
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