Experts join green initiative
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 3
The state’s Eco Task Force will now have the benefit of the expertise of the Forest Research Institute for restoring greenery in the country.

The force is at present engaged in the Aglar valley of Tehri Garhwal and has completed 6,000 hectares of plantation since the start of the project in 1994. It plans to go for plantation in 400 hectares every year till the end of 2014.

Men in olive representing Eco Task Force battalions from Assam, Shimla, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan are participating in the one of most comprehensive training programmes being conducted by the Forest Research Institute ending tomorrow.

Alarmed at eco degradation in the Shivaliks in the eighties, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had agreed to late agronomist Dr Norman Borlough's suggestion to involve the Army in tackling the problem on a war footing.

It was decided to raise a unit of the Territorial Army for the purpose. The battallion was raised on December 1, 1982 at Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre Lansdowne (Uttarakhand).

One-of-a-kind, the battalion works with the dual aim of resettlement of ex-servicemen and re-generation of ecology. The Eco Task Force played a key role in checking indiscriminate felling of trees and unplanned mining in Mussoorie region. Since then, the force has spread across several states of the country. Apart from the task of treating 25 mines here in Mussoorie, it has been working on soil conservation of check dams and on other conservation efforts.

"The work if the Eco Task Force towards environment conservation is unparalleled and we aim to provide these committed men our expertise in forestry," said Forest Research Institute director Dr SS Negi.

He said it was for the first time that the Institute would provide technical expertise to the force personnel engaged in restoring the green cover in parts of the country.

The three-day training programme, apart from field visits, includes lectures by eminent scientists, including Dr NSK Harsh and Manisha Thapliyal on subjects like afforestration needs, storage of forestry seeds, climate change and carbon credit. The programme would also include a visit to the seed lab and seed 

Welcoming the institute’s initiative, Commanding Officer, 127 Infantry Battalion, Eco Task Force, P S Mavi, said proper training and knowhow mattered much.

He said the training programme could not have come at a more appropriate time when the task force men apart from Aglar in Tehri Garhwal district were also engaged in Bhatti mine area of Gurgaon.

Dr VRR Singh, head of silviculture division, who is conducting the training programme, said equipped with training by forestry experts, these ex-servicemen would be able to strengthen their green efforts.

"The Eco Task Force is not only helping in environment conservation but is also adding another facet, of eco-tourism", said forestry expert Prof NP Todaria. He said none would like to visit a hill station or a mountain area that was scarred, as was the case with Mussoorie.

He said the force, by bringing back greenery to mines had tried to rectify the mistakes committed by others. "The Eco Task Force not only plants saplings but grows trees for fruit, fire and fodder for villagers. Uttarakhand is all but mountains and the force has proved beyond doubt that it stands for mountains and its people," he said.

The force received much of appreciation of Doonites. "The work done in Mussoorie and surrounding areas is as example for those working on environment conservation," said Lt Col (Retd) MM Kukreti.

But all this does not end with saplings. The unrelenting warriors also conduct organise public awareness programmes. It interacts with schoolchildren from Dehradun, apprising them of the works of the force, inspiring them to do their bit towards preserving ecology.

It was owing to the commendable work of the force that Uttarakhand decided to raise four companies from its own resources, two each in Garhwal and Kumoan regions respectively, to save the forests.

Significantly, the Eco Task Force is a source of employment for locals who retire from the Army and have limited job options after that. The force has proved to be of enormous benefit to these ex-servicemen.

The Task force works have received Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar. It completed its 25 years of existence on December 1, 2007.



Unsettled by a pond
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 3
The winter habitat of the Bhotia Jaad tribal community in the state faces a threat from marauding elephants as an under-construction pond in close vicinity could invite them to the settlement.

Chorpani area in Narendra Nagar forest division continues to be in the thick of elephant movement. The forest authorities in order to cater to the water needs of the pachyderms began construction of a pond, which is nearing completion.

This Chorpani area has been the winter habitat for the Bhotia Jaad community since ages. They migrate from the Uttarakashi region after Diwali and remain there with their livestock till Holi. After that they return to Uttarkashi.

With the pond coming up at Chorpani, the community members fear elephant attacks. “ With a big pond to attract the elephants in close vicinity, there is every possibility that the elephants may target our settlements located closeby,” Chain Singh Rana, a community member said.

There already has been several incidents of elephants venturing out into the Bhotia settlements, the smell of grains being a major cause for attraction.

On the other hand, elephants in the region find it tough finding water in these forests.The construction of the pond has been part of Project Elephant initiated by the Uttarakhand forest authorities.

The authorities dismiss the notion that the pond could pose a threat to Bhotia settlements. They argue that the pond is to be utilised during summers when Bhotia Jaad members move back to the hills from Chorpani.

Gopal Singh Rana, divisional forest officer of Narendra Nagar, said he had received a complaint on the matter and was examining the concerns of the Bhotia Jaad community. 



Ayurvedic hospital in shambles, but who cares
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Roorkee, February 3
Quite in contrast to the government’s claims of boosting ayurvedic medical system in the state, the ground reality is something different: albeit the building of the Government Ayurvedic Hospital here had been declared ‘unsafe’ by the public works department 12 years ago, no repairs have been initiated so far.

The 200-year-old building has developed cracks, has broken doors and windows, and the dilapidated floor in on the verge of collapse. A portion of the building has already collapsed and compounded the problems of the hapless staff of nine persons, including two doctors and two pharmacists, and a large number of patients who come here for treatment. In addition, heaps of garbage greets visitors at the hospital entrance.

According to the staff, the 15-bedded hospital, which was shifted here from Emily Road in 1986, caters to around 250 patients daily. Although none of the staff members wished to be named, all of them demanded that a new structure should be constructed.

“Although the government had declared the structure as ‘unsafe’ in 1996, no repairs have been made so far due to technical reasons,” said a staff member on the condition of anonymity. Many letters have been dispatched to the authorities but no action has been taken so far, he added.

The staff members informed that the land belongs to the Government Civil Hospital, which used to run from here before being shifted to a new building in 1986. “The building should be registered in the name of the ayurvedic department, so that funds can be released for repair or a new structure,” said another staff member. 



Hospice with a difference
Neena Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 3
The absence of cancer care centres in the state coupled with the rising number of patients has forced a group of individuals to work towards setting up a hospice for the terminally ill.

A first of its kind in Uttarakhand, the 50-bedded Ganga Prem Hospice in Rishikesh, a project of Shradha Cancer Care Trust, is expected to fulfil the needs of the terminally ill. The hospice is expected to be completed in three years.

“There is no government cancer hospital in the state and patients are treated at the oncology department of the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT), Jolly Grant. According to a survey undertaken by the institute, there are as many as 5-6 lakh cancer patients in the state,” said Dr AK Diwan, senior surgeon and oncologist at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital, New Delhi, at a press conference here today. Diwan is also a consultant with Shradha Cancer Care Trust.

The hospice would provide emotional and spiritual care to people with an expected life span of less than six months. “The concept is new in India. The hospice will provide spiritual and non-allopathic treatment like Ayurveda and use alternative therapies. The aim is to improve the quality of life of those terminally ill. Patients will be treated free of cost,” said Dr Dewan.

In India, 40 per cent cases of oral and mouth cancers are due to consumption of nicotine, ‘supari’ and alcohol, as they are all carcinogenic. Most of the cases are detected in the last stage, when the chances of treatment are negligible.

“Basically, cancer is a lifestyle disease, brought forth by changes in living habits. The role of heredity is 5 per cent, with causation and environmental factors acting through modification of genes. It is important to be health conscious since a very young age so as to prevent such diseases,” added Dr Dewan.

Swami Madhwanand, general manager of Ganga Prem Hospice, said members of the trust are presently visiting the houses of cancer patients who are terminally ill in order to counsel them. Dr Dewan also holds a camp on every Sunday, he informed. 



The dead count too
Neena Sharma
Tribune News Service

Vijay Bagga Dehradun, February 3
Vijay Bagga, a jeweller, has been aiding the police in performing the last rites of the persons whose bodies lie unclaimed.

In the absence of institutional arrangement, the police find it difficult to perform the rites of unclaimed bodies.

Local police officials had to seek contributions from the public to fund the cremation of these bodies.

Moved by the situation where unclaimed bodies rot and the police was dependent on charitable bodies, Vijay Bagga decided to contribute to the cause.

“As the constables usually approached shopkeepers of Dhamawala market, which is near the kotwali, I had seen many of them making small contributions. From 1996, I began contributing Rs 500 for the last rites of each body,” Bagga said.

As a proof of his claims, Vijay has collected several acceptance receipts that have been duly signed by the munshi of the kotwali and railway station police posts.

“There is no van provided by the hospital for ferrying the bodies. Neither does any doctor or helper readily undertake post-mortem examination of the bodies,” opined Bagga.

Bagga made an estimate of the cost incurred in taking the body to the cremation ground from the hospital.

“Money has to be offered at several stages in order to get the work done,” averred Bagga.

At Lakhi Bagh cremation ground, the Shivaji Sewa Samiti, a social organisation provides logs for the cremation.

“No one comes forward to light the pyre. So the police induces someone with Rs 100 to do the needful. In all, Rs 500-600 is needed,” informed Vijay Bagga.

Constable Umeed Singh of Kotwali police station said, “He has been contributing for the past five or six years. The amount varies between Rs 300 to 500.

After the amount is received, a slip of acceptance is given by the kotwali to the donor. Usually, two or three cases take place in a month.”

ASP Anant Shankar Takwale said that from time to time, the state government makes a yearly provision for this purpose.

According to sources, the constable on duty has to shell money from his pocket which is reimbursed.

The state government has set aside an annual fund of Rs 5000. But the budget allocation is always delayed. The last amount received by the kotwali was in January 2008. 



Eco-friendly wedding cards in demand
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 3
A wedding card plays a major role in setting the mood for the wedding day. It is considered as an official announcement amongst friends and relatives. Wedding card is the first impression about a wonderful celebration, which is about to take place. From the past few years, the city has expanded its wedding market. With a large variety in clothes, decorations and food, beautiful designer wedding cards are must for big fat weddings.

Earlier, people used to go to Delhi in search of variety but today one can choose simple as well as exquisite designer cards.

“From past two years the market for wedding cards has tremendously changed, earlier people used to visit big cities, but today we are providing them attractive designer cards in almost 300 designs,” said Abhishek, owner, Kanav cards. “With designer cards people are also opting for hand-made paper cards in metallic colours. These cards are in demand because they are attractive and nature friendly,” added Abhishek. Moreover, four years ago usually where people used to spend Rs. 5-10. Presently people don’t mind spending much to make their day special.

“In this time of recession people are still willing to pick up the best as it is more of a style statement for them,” said Abhishek.

“As young couples ask for unique designs. We design cards on orders which encourages us to be more innovative,” said Rajeev Gautam, owner, Indian paper mart. However, from past two years, the market here has changed but the variety is still limited and prices are also quite high as compared to big cities.

Tampatra is one of the best shops in the city, specialising in hand made paper wedding cards and other marriage related accessories. 



Four artists display their works
Tribune News Service

Visitors at the Uttaranchal Gramin Bank Art Gallery in Dehradun.
Visitors at the Uttaranchal Gramin Bank Art Gallery in Dehradun. A Tribune photograph

Dehradun, February 3
An exhibition, showcasing the works of four artists, was recently held at the Uttaranchal Gramin Bank Art Gallery.

Dr Indu Singh, principal of MKP PG College, had inaugurated the exhibition, which was held under the aegis of Snehil Samajik evam Sanskriti Sangthan. The exhibition concluded on Sunday.

Nature was the inspiration for Dr Varsha Sonakar and she used both oil and acrylic for her creations. Shweta Shukla’s fascination with horses was evident in her ‘motion’ series.

Indu Saini experimented in mix medium, while Lakshmi Chaudhri displayed miniature paintings.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |