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PCB report on garbage discharge into Ashwani Khud points out Shimla’s poor SWM

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Ashwani Khud Inquiry report

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.

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,

he added.

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. 

Sewage in Ashwani Khud

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.  

 

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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 9 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 the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Environment

Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh to be Set up Soon, Rs. 1000 Crore MoUs Singed: HP Govt

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Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-To set Solar Power Plants in Himachal Pradesh, the State Government has signed two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) worth Rs. 1000 crore with two companies.

One MoU worth Rs. 600 crore was signed between State Government and Renew Energy Pvt. Ltd. through Director of the Company Prabhat Kumar Mishra for setting up of 150 MW Solar Power Plant in the State to produce green energy. This project is proposed to start production from 2021 and provide employment to over 1000 persons

While another MoU worth Rs. 400 crore was also signed with CSE Development (India) Pvt. Ltd. for setting up of 100 MW  Solar Plant to produce renewal energy by Director Business Development & Head Open Access Vikram Madan on behalf of the company.  This project on completion would provide employment to about 700 persons.

On behalf of the State Government, the MoUs were signed by Principal Secretary, Power and Renewal Energy Resources Prabodh Saxena.  

The government said the projects have direct employment potential of about 1700 people besides self-employment avenues to thousands of people.

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said the State Government would facilitate the companies to obtain necessary permissions and clearances etc. from the concerned authorities at the earliest so that work on these projects could be started soon. He said that work to set up the plants would be initiated soon as land had already been identified in Una and Kangra districts.

He said that Union Government has fixed the target of harnessing about 99533 MW solar power in the country through renewal solar energy out of which the State has been asked to achieve the target of exploitation of 776 MW solar power by the year 2022.

 

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Environment

Video: Leopard Sighting in Shimla on NH-5 Near Kanlog

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Leopard sighting in Shimla city

Shimla-Leopard sightings in residential areas and on roadsides in Shimla is becoming frequent. Last week, a leopard was spotted near Kanlog on Tutikandi-Dhalli bypass. The leopard was captured on a mobile camera by some commuters. The leopard disappeared into the adjoining forest later.

Similarly, a sighting was reported by a local from Chaura Maidan area very recently.

Mostly, the leopards enter residential areas looking for dogs. Littering and inappropriately disposed of garbage attracts dogs and dogs attract leopards.

However, their sighting creates panic among residents. The Forest Department has been trying to capture these leopards by placing cages in the areas from where reports of sighting were received. However, so far, the department did not get any success.

Wildlife experts advise people to not bend down or look into the eyes of a leopard directly in case they encounter one. Bending down or looking directly into their eyes are perceived by these animals as preparedness for attack or a challenge.

Also, as per the experts, leopards are shy animals and avoid humans. They prefer to hunt down prey that doesn’t weigh more than 30-40 kg. That’s why a person in a crouching position would appear like a smaller animal to leopards and the chances are high that they would attack. This also explains why children are more vulnerable than adults.

Make sure that there is no garbage littered near residential areas to avoid attracting dogs.

To be safe, while crossing vulnerable areas, playing loud music on the mobile phone is also advisable. In that case, a leopard won’t mistake a human for another animal.

If you have pets, keep them in enclosed spaces after it gets dark. Do not form a crowd on seeing a leopard. It would frighten the animal and make an attack imminent, say experts.

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HP Sports Policy Will be Amended For Specially Abled Students: Govt

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HP Sports Policy Amendment

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Sports Policy will be amended to provide equal participation in sports to visually impaired and specially-abled students, announced the state government on August 7, 2019.

This announcement was made by the Sports Minister Govind Singh Thakur during Van Mahotsav function at Baldeyan panchayat of Shimla district. The event was organised by the Non-Profit Organization Umang Foundation for visually impaired and specially-abled students.

About 200 specially-abled students of Himachal Pradesh University, Govt. Degree College Sanjauli, Special School Dhali and Portmore school along with members of Umang Foundation planted around 250 Deodar plants in association with the forest department.

Visually impaired and other specially-abled persons could also equally contribute in the society if given ample opportunity, the Minister said. He also announced to provide 15 laptops to Umang Foundation for visually impaired students for pursuing higher education. Rs 50 thousand were also announced for these students.

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