Encroachers sit pretty on MC land
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, November 10
The Dehradun Municipal Corporation (DMC) failed to remove encroachments along the Bindal river in Niranjanpur locality today, once again exposing its inability to find a permanent solution to the problem. In the absence of requisite police force, the anti-encroachment team of the corporation had to return empty-handed.

This is not the first time the corporation’s anti-encroachment team has had to go back after facing stiff resistance from encroachers. Several such incidents have been reported in the past. Today, mere nine policemen accompanied the corporation team that went to raze encroachments in Niranjanpur.

The police proved to be of no help as a crowd of more than 200 gathered in support of the encroachers , vehemently opposing the corporation’s move to demolish structures. The corporation officials could do little. They cut a sorry figure trying to find cover and managed to pull down one encroachment, a house.

Lack of coordination among the corporation authorities, the police and the administration appears to be the biggest stumbling block in carrying out anti- encroachment campaigns.

With a view to checking fresh encroachments and razing old ones, the administration had constituted a task force comprising officials from the departments concerned, including the PWD, the police and the municipal corporation.

Chief executive office Sushil Kumar admits that rising encroachments are a matter of concern for the municipal authorities. He says the corporation gets cooperation neither from the police, nor the administration.

He says the corporation will take up the matter with both. Referring to the Niranjanpur encroachments, he says they had repeatedly appealed to the offenders to submit documents, but in vain.

A few months back, the municipal authorities had a tough time dealing with encroachers in Saperi Basti and the Rajpur Octroi area of North Dehradun and Deepnagar. Encroachments at Brahmapuri, Loharwala, Kargi, Mayur Vihar and Rispana Bridge stare at the face of the MC. corporation.

The encroachments along seasonal rivers and drains are common in Dehradun. These places prove to be a safe haven for anti-social elements. Estimates show as much of 70 per cent of the MC land is under encroachment.

Speaking to The Tribune, mayor Vinod Chamoli said the corporation was committed to making Dehradun free of encroachments. Councillor Vijay Pratap Mall, however, blamed the corporation for the failure of anti-encroachment drives.

“Usually, the lack of staff forces the corporation to adopt a go-slow attitude. I have asked the corporation several times to remove encroachments in my wards, but action is still to come,” he said.



Taming the beast in the man
In the late fifties when hunting was on the rise, the Maharaja of Nabha thought of the need to form a group that would fight for the cause of protection of the wild life in India
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, November 10
Few would know that efforts to conserve Indian wild life began in Dehradun. It it was none other than the Maharaja of Nabha who took up the cudgels to protect wild life, particularly at a time when awareness on conservation was minimal.

In the backdrop of large-scale violation of hunting rules in the late fifties, the Maharaja, Sir Pratap Singh Malvendra Bahadur, an avid hunter, thought of the need to form a group of wild life lovers that would stand for the cause of the protection of nation’s rich wild life.

He constituted the Wild Life Preservation Society of Northern India in 1959. A young Dosco, Kamal Nath, was one of the founding members.

The society came into being when hunting was on the rise and there was no legislation ensuring conservation of wild animals. Wild life conservation came up in 1972 and in all probability proved detrimental to conservation efforts.

Denizens of Doon and eminent persons like PD Stracey, IFS, RL Holdsworth, Doon School, Major Mainwaring Cambrian Hall and Sardar Gurkirat Singh Mann were among the pioneers in wild life conservation.

“ The Wild Life Preservation Society of India today stands as one of the oldest societies and is working with the same zeal as it did almost fifty years back,” says AS Negi, vice-president of the society.

The society’s publication “Cheetal”, a quarterly journal regularly published by the society since 1959, draws attention of the young and old alike. An authority on wild life, Negi says a lot needs to be done for the promotion of conservation.

The level of commitment of the royal Nabha family can be gauged from the fact that the Maharani, who passed away in 1997, in her will donated Rs 2.5 lakh towards the society’s activities.

With 400 members on roll, including a few from the US and England, the society organises photo exhibitions and treks on a regular basis. The society felicitated orthinologist Dr Raman Athreya and wild life photographer Bhagat Singh for their contribution towards wild life conservation.

Significantly, the society draws its strength from a large fraternity of experts from the region. Uttarakhand houses organisations like the Wild Life Institute, whose authority on wild life research and studies across the country is unparalleled.



U’khand lives up to its green reputation
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, November 10
As the state completes its eighth year of existence, Uttarkhand has made rapid strides in enriching its forests and wildlife after initial hiccups. A state that has over 60 per cent of its geographical area under forests did certainly prove its credentials.

While the declaration of Valley of Flowers as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 put Uttarakhand on the international eco-tourism map, the notification of two of its key wildlife sites of Assan (Dehradun) and Jhilmil (Haridwar) as Conservation Reserves the very same year were other major successes.

The death of five elephants in Corbett in 2001 followed by dip in population of pachyderm in 2006 census came as a setback for the new state. But it managed to not only check illegal poaching but now has the most healthy figures of tigers in the country.

However, the menace of annual forest fires during summer has proved to be yet another major challenge for forest authorities.As the state of Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh, it almost took away most of its forest and wildlife wealth. Apprehensions were raised on many quarters as to whether the nascent state of Uttarakhand would protect its rich forest biodiversity, particularly when it has little income generating resources at hand and pressure on forests were all too evident.

But in the years gone by, Uttarakhand has proved beyond doubt that it has not only kept its forests and wildlife secure albeit the challenge it faced in the form of forest fires and illegal poaching.

Apart from introducing satellite technology to quell forest fires in time, the Uttarakhand forest authorities took the local villagers into confidence by ensuring community participation for the timely safeguard of its forest wealth.

Its pro-biodiversity initiatives vis-à-vis fauna were amply revealed in Indian Tiger Census that concluded a year back when Jim Corbett national park emerged as highest density tiger habitat in the Indian sub-continent.

Interestingly, when tigers steadily decreased all across its habitats in the country, Uttarakhand stood to its pro-wild life reputation. Similarly, the state also initiated efforts to pursue the union environment ministry to sanction a flyover on two of the key elephant corridors of Rajaji Park, in larger interests of the Shivalik Pachyderm fraternity.

Significantly, to protect one of its most rich fauna, efforts were also undertaken by the Uttarakhand Forest Department to strengthen its anti-poaching strategy. While constituting an effective anti-poaching cell, strategies were also re-drawn and more forest officials were equipped with arms to check poachers. And this certainly did yield results as several gangs of poachers were busted.

The concept of community participation in wildlife conservation also got a new meaning in Uttarakhand. The state was also awarded by the minister of forest and environment for its effort to clean up Nandadevi Biosphere of solid waste pollution in assistance with the local people leading to conferring of Indira Priyadarshinin Paryavan Puraskar.

The major problems of scarcity of lower rung of forest officials were also taken up all these years. While ensuring of regularisation of big chunk of forest officials, the recruitment process for forest guards has also been started.

As this forest dominated state enters its ninth year, the Forest Department faces another arduous challenge to check the rising pressure on forests. While on one hand, it has to restore the forest dwellers’ rights, it also needs to secure its critical wildlife habitats and the demand for more developmental works.

The death of five elephants in Corbett in 2001 followed by a fall in the population of pachyderm in the 2006 census came as a setback for the new state. But it managed to not only check illegal poaching but now has the most healthy figures of the tiger in the country.



Negi leaves audience yearning for more
Sandip Rawat
Tribune News Service

Haridwar, November 10
The darling of the masses, the inimitable Narendra Singh Negi, legendary folk singer of Uttarakhand, was here to perform at the Haridwar Mahotsava. His songs cast a spell and the crowd seemed delirious with joy.

Born in Pauri Garhwal, the singer has single-handedly transformed Garhwali music, giving it worldwide recognition. Performing the length and breadth of the country and foreign shores such as the USA, Britain, Dubai, and Oman, how does he feel?

"It's an honour to perform before the audience. The love and affection among Uttaranchalis abroad for their culture is commendable. They haven't forgotten their roots and love their music."

"I came from Dehradun to listen to him as his songs are culturally and socially relevant. In, fact he is the jewel of Uttarakhand," said Subedar MN Nautiyal (retd), a Negi fan.

Negi has a smooth, sweet voice that transcends barriers of language. His songs in the nineties during the Uttarakhand state movement inspired the hill folk to stand up and fight for the cause of a separate state.

"That was the time when everyone was contributing to the statehood movement and I feel very happy that I could contribute to the cause through my singing, " he says.

He feels music is in the land of Uttarakhand itself. "The music is in every element, be it the winds that touch the mountains or the rhythmic flow of the holy Ganga, the symphony of sound exists naturally almost everywhere,” he says.

So what is unique in Garhwali songs ?. "The Garhwali music is more about feelings and I feel this is because of the simple nature of the people" he replies, in a reflective mood.

On the upcoming singers, Negi has a piece of advice: "Tradition and culture should not take a back seat and more the effort, sweeter the outcome.” The veteran singer attributes his success to the diversity of the Uttarakhand culture.



Give more space to schools

I am a school teacher and I feel that more reports need to be carried by your paper on school activities and functions. Not only will this encourage students to compete with one another better but will also inculcate their interest in newspaper reading.

Also, it would be a good idea if you invite the students to contribute to the paper. It could be an article, a short story , a poem or a painting. This important segment, tomorrow’s citizens, must be given adequate space in the papers.

There could also be interesting articles on good parenting and teaching skills as well as healthy interaction between teachers and parents. We know the family and teachers need to work in tandem to bring out the best in children.

Child rights is another issue that needs to be highlighted. When Europe has evolved a charter for pet rights, we in India still need to do a lot towards child protection.

—Kavita Khanna, Haridwar

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