Springs of change in hill villages
Nuclear technology has helped recharge 16 underground aquifers in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre associated with nuclear energy research has decided to spread the technology in the state’s hill villages, making it simple and affordable
SMA Kazmi

Dehradun, January 23
From Jammu and Kashmir to North East Himalayas, people in the mountainous areas are faced with the ever- increasing shortage of drinking water due to drying up water sources, springs and aquifers.

Wanton destruction of forests has led to the drying up of water sources so crucial for the survival of the people in the mountains.

But now encouraged by successful experiments in using nuclear technology in recharging 16 underground water aquifers in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the countrys’ premier institute associated with nuclear energy research, has decided to spread the technology by making it simple and affordable.

The centre has decided to set up an isotope water-testing laboratory in collaboration with the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO), a voluntary group that initiated the programme of water recharging in the Himalayas.

The laboratory is proposed to be set up at the HESCO centre in Shuklapur village on the outskirts of Dehradun.

A team of five top scientists today visited Dehradun to discuss modalities of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed between the centre and HESCO regarding the setting up of the laboratory.

Dr Gursharan, head of the isotope application division of BARC, and Dr Shivanna, who has been involved in the programme for the past three years, along with Dr Sunil Sabherwal, head, radiation technology development section, Prof V Venegopal, director, radio-chemistry and isotope group, and Dr Sunil Trehan visited the HESCO campus today to discuss the modalities for setting up of the isotope water-testing laboratory.

Equipment worth more than Rs 3 crore, including mass photo spectometer is p+roposed to be installed in the laboratory. The BARC officials will prepare the MOU in this regard soon.

BARC has already trained 10 groups of youths from the hills in isotope technology for the benefit of their communities for underground water recharging.

BARC scientists using isotope hydrology technology were able to recharge 16 water sources which had virtually gone dry leading to a severe water crisis in Gauchar area of Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand.

It all started in 2003, when BARC at the initiative of Dr M A Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, visited the area facing a severe water crisis. Working with HESCO, a local voluntary organisation, scientists of BARC started work on collecting water samples from various catchment areas of the dried up springs during the monsoons when there was some water discharge from these springs.

“Using the environmental isotope techniques, we first traced the recharge areas of these water sources,” said Dr Gursharan of BARC.

Using the latest isotope hydro geo-chemical techniques, the scientists worked tirelessly to track down the origin of the dried springs on the slopes of the hills.

Once the origin and route were traced, scientists built dams so that water would percolate within the earth. After firmly establishing the catchment area of each spring, 33 water dams and tanks to hold rainwater were built in the past three years in the recharge zones with the help of locals. The springs were recharged at the village downstream.

“After monitoring the discharge from these sources, it was found that it had increased considerably and two new water springs had also came up,” claimed Dr Shivanna, the man responsible for the experiment on the ground.

“ We should be able to recharge fresh water sources in the Himalayas as global demand for fresh water is bound to increase in times to come. Moreover, the local population dependent on these water sources should benefit from latest technology,” Dr Anil Joshi of HESCO said.

And now, the water discharge in the dried spring has risen to 16 litres per minute from a scanty 2 litres per minute. During the peak summer season when the temperatures in the hills rose to 40 degree Celsius, the water discharge in these springs was 6 litres per minute.

“This is a significant development which will go a long way in not only preserving and recharging water, but in helping hill villagers in agriculture and drinking water facilities,” said Dr Joshi.

In Uttarakhand, drinking water has become scarce and women have been trekking miles for water. The work done by BARC has attracted attention of the state government as well as the Army.

Dr Anil Kakodkar, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, visited HESCO and was impressed by the low-cost technology initiative to solve the problem of water. He decided to set up an isotope testing laboratory in Dehradun with the help of BARC.

“In the past two years, there are more than 100 sites in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and J&K where we have started taking samples for recharge of the underground water aquifers with minimum resources,” Dr Joshi said.

“With technological help from BARC, we will be working at 10 more places in the state to replicate the experiment,” said Harshpati Uniyal, chief of Uttaranchal Jal Sansthan, a state government agency responsible for providing drinking water to the populace.

The Garhwal Regimental Centre at Lansdowne in Pauri Garhwal has also selected a village for applying the isotope technology for recharging of a water spring there.



Cash-ing in on country music
Neena Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 23
An Indian making it big in country music is hard to believe. Bal Kishore Das Loiwal or Bobby Cash, hailing from Doon, did just that, blazing Australian country music charts in 2004.

Since then he has not looked back. He is now working on his new album that will hit the market anytime this year.

“There is always a song or a composition playing in my head and when I get that eureka moment, I share it with people, that’s how I work,” says Cash.

He will be recording the album in Perth. He uses the guitar as a complete instrument. “I use my thumb to replace the bass, my third finger for rhythm, the fourth and fifth fingers are used to pick the melody. So while working on an acoustic guitar, I manage to get rhythm and the bass effect,” explains Cash.

In his early days while based in Delhi he played at several hotels. A chance meeting with singer/producer Bromely got him an invitation to play at the Tamworth Music Festival in Australia. The rest is history.

Cash says: “When I played the guitar in Australia, people were mystified. Here was a brown musician trying to attempt something different. But if you give good music to people, they will always respond well. This is what happened. Mind you I had to perform in front of Smoky Dawson.”

“Country music is lots and lots of hard work with hours stretching into days, to top it all this music is almost non-existent in India. However, this is not true of the North East where country music is popular,” says Cash.

So far he has released three albums and was even nominated for country music awards. Between 2004-06, his music was played on the radio.

Says Cash: “Adulation and hero worship is part and parcel of a musician’s life. I did not aim for stardom. When it came in 2004, I took it as an opportunity that had come my way to share music with so many people. I see it as a gift from God. And I love what I am doing.”

So what keeps him rooted? “ My home is here in Doon, I love it here. My professional commitments take me to Australia, but I am very Indian,” says Cash.



Harshit finds R-Day foothold
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Roorkee, January 23
Harshit Garg has once again made his parents, teachers and well-wishers proud. This Republic Day, he has earned the honour of sitting beside Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during the parade at Rajpath.

Harshit has been invited to the PM’s box for his achievements in education. Harshit is a medical student at AIMS in New Delh. "I am elated and looking forward to the D-day," he said on the phone.

His elated parents Dr Pankaj Garg and Nidhi Garg said:

"The selection of Harshit among hundreds of toppers in the country is a milestone in his glorious career. We are very happy for our son."

"This is not the first time that Harshit has made his family of 150 engineers and 40 doctors proud. A topper throughout, on August 15 last he was awarded the Uttarakhand State Award by Chief Minister BC Khanduri for topping in Class XII," said Dr Garg.

He ranked first in the All India Engineering Examinations (AIEEE) and the Uttarakhand Pre-Medical test (UPMT) last year.

Harshit was ranked 2850 in the IIT JEE last year. In Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University, he topped the PMT merit list.

Besides, Harshit has won many national and state-level debate and Olympiads.



Digging begins around St Joseph’s Academy
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 23
Digging has started to shift the boundary of Saint Joseph Academy (SJA) further inside its premises along Subhash Road. The move is aimed at decongesting traffic along the entire stretch up to Old Survey Chowk.

After strong resistance, the management of the Academy, a leading school of Dehradun, finally agreed to vacate a part of the public property that was given to it on lease by the government. The management took the decision keeping in mind the traffic chaos caused due to narrowness of the road.

The move is part of the district administration’s drive under which the entire stretch of road, flanked by buildings of the state secretariat and police headquarters, has to be widened. Notably, the land belongs to the government and as such it has every right to get it back in public interest.

District magistrate Amit Singh Negi said land was earlier taken back near the Survey Chowk and Rajpur Road. “It is in the interest of the school as it will help ease traffic congestion on this road. After this, boundary walls of the secretariat and DGP office will also be shifted,” he said.

According to the widening plan, the boundary wall of the school will be shifted about three metres inside from its present location. The digging is being conducted by the PWD, which has been provided funds for the same.

“We will bear the cost of construction of the new boundary wall as it will be dismantled by us. Its length is around 300 metres. Hopefully, we will construct the new one within a month,” said XEN Dayanand.



Allotment of liquor vends
Proposal to make PAN, IT return mandatory
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 23
Income Tax authorities in Uttarakhand have proposed to make Permanent Account Number (PAN) and a statement of IT return compulsory for those applying for allotment of liquor vends in the state in the next financial year.

Sources said the move was aimed at identifying real sources of funding into the liquor business. This would filter any dummy allottees who may have got licences of liquor vends under the prevailing lottery system in which any bonafide resident of the state can apply.

It is suspected that the liquor mafia could still be active covertly since the government introduced the lottery system replacing the tender-cum-auction system.

The issue has already been discussed in the meeting of Regional Economic Intelligence Committee (REIC) comprising various tax departments, police, intelligence agencies and banks to share information in order to prevent tax evasion.

In the REIC meeting in July 2008, the state excise authorities were asked to incorporate conditions related to PAN and copy of IT Return in case the bid amount of a vend exceeded Rs 10 lakh to ensure their proper identification and verification.

The government earned around Rs 200 crore as revenue from the sale of vends in the current financial year.

Though the state excise commissioner Dr Ranbir Singh was evasive when asked about this but authoritative sources said that he has been apprised about the proposal.

On the request of the Income Tax Department, the state excise authorities have already furnished the details of the allottees in the current as well as financial year 2006 to the Income Tax Department. But the details of action taken were not immediately known.



Market Buzz
Fizi Foods enters Garhwal markets
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 23
Fizi Foods and Beverages, launched its range of food products in the Garhwal zone here yesterday. This is for the first time Fizi Foods has come out with an economical and nutritious range of food products for the people of Uttarakhand.

Pure fizi flour, crispy Bikanari papads, soya chunks, cornflakes, tangy pickles to sodas and mineral waters will be soon supplied to retail stores in the Garhwal zone.

“Initially, within a span of 15-20 days, our foodstuff will be launched in markets of the Garhwal zone under the supervision of our clearing and forwarding head. Later, we will be expanding business to Kumaon range also,” said Surinder Thapa, regional sales manager, Fizi Foods.

After three months, 50 more items will be launched in Uttarakhand. Fizi Foods and Beverages has planned a strategy to popularise their products in the area.



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