CM wants apex body for rafting industry
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 6
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Maj Gen BC Khanduri (retd) has called for an apex body for the growing river-rafting industry in the state.

Khanduri, who was speaking at a review meeting of the tourism department here yesterday, said that as river-rafting companies have to deal with forest, tourism and irrigation departments separately to get licences, there is a lot of confusion.

He advised the officials of these departments to sit together to form an apex body for the industry.

The Chief Minister expressed his unhappiness at the slow rate of private investment in the tourism sector in the state. He was of the opinion that with many formalities to be done at different places, entrepreneurs were feeling discouraged from investing in the tourism sector.

Khanduri said that on the lines of the industry department, a single-window clearance system must be introduced in the tourism department to give a fillip to private investment.

He directed officials to identify more places in the state for having air-strips to bring the virgin areas of the state within the reach of tourists.

The Chief Minister also sought details of the benefits that have been reaped by residents of the villages which have been identified as tourist villages. The department had developed 17 villages in the state as model tourist villages.

He directed the officials to choose those villages that are frequented by tourists and pressed for timely completion of tourist circuits so that more and more locals could benefit from tourism.

Uttarakhand Tourism Minister Parkash Pant said that out of Rs 65 crore released by the Central government, a sum of Rs 45 crore has been spent. More than Rs 4 crore have been spent on providing infrastructure facilities in 17 model tourist villages. Pant said that Hemkund Sahib-Ganghria-Valley of Flowers circuit, Gangotri Dham destination, Dyara Bugyal circuit, Pauri-Khirsu-Lansdown destination, Pitthoragarh-Munsiyari-Berinag-Kumaon destination and Kedartah destination are being developed.

The Chief Minister called for the provision of infrastructure facilities like clean toilets along the ‘Char Dham’ yatra route.



Cow: The new growth mascot
SMA Kazmi
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 6
The cow has become the pivot of various developmental schemes launched by the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state.

Besides selling cow urine, the government would soon be embarking on an ambitious project to usher in a ‘White Revolution’. Moreover, there are plans of inviting expression of interest from private institutions for setting up a Cow Science and Technology Institute at Pashulok, near Rishikesh, under the public-private mode.

Notably, the institute is the brainchild of Uttarakhand agriculture minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, a former RSS ‘parcharak’. After coming to power in March 2007, the Khanduri government had decided to set up an institute in Chamoli district, but later the venue was shifted to Rishikesh.

A provision of Rs 3 crore was made for the proposed institute in the first budget presented by the government. Slated as the first of its kind in the country, the institute would conduct research on medicinal value of cow urine and dung. Khanduri had said the institute would develop various medicines made from cow urine that would reduce dependency on antibiotic medicines.

According to sources, the state government had asked the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, to prepare a blueprint for the proposed institute. However, after a lukewarm response from the national institute, it has been decided to invite expression of interest from private partners. A sum of Rs 20 crore would be spent on the institute that would be spread over an area of 20 acres.

According to officials, research on how to improve the milk-giving capacity of various breeds of indigenous cows, namely ‘Badri’, the red small cow of the hills, ‘Sahiwal’, ‘Thar’ and ‘Sindhi’, would be undertaken at the institute.

Officials believe that the urine of ‘Badri’, the small red cow of the hills, has a unique quality to treat cancer. Already cow urine being sold by the state government is getting popular with farmers and the state animal husbandry department has set up six centres to prepare cow urine concentrate. The units have been set up at Herbertpur and Kalsi in Dehradun, Chamoli, Srinagar Garhwal, Almora and Nainital.

The department officials have been collecting cow urine and after due processing, the concentrate is being sold to the Pitanjali Yog Peeth, Haridwar, which is run by famous yoga guru Ramdev, at the rate of Rs 25 per litre. The concentrate is used by the Yog Peeth pharmacy to make various ayurvedic medicines.

“We are selling more than 200 litres of cow urine concentrate every day to Divya Pharmacy,” said agriculture minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. He said the basic idea was to give a better price to cow-owners, most of whom were women. “We want to give a price of Rs 10 per litre to cow-owners,” he added.

Cow urine is also being bought through milk cooperative societies. “A total of 1,900 active milk cooperatives will be engaged in collecting cow urine, which will later be sold to ayurvedic pharmacies or used for making medicines,” said Rawat.

The agriculture minister has also decided to usher in a ‘White Revolution’ in the state through dairy development. The government proposes to add 200 dairies to collect an additional 40,000 litres of milk so that production reaches around 2 lakh litres.

The department has tied up with the Bank of Baroda that would provide easy loans to farmers for buying cows and buffaloes to set up dairies. The produce would be bought through Uttarakhand Milk Federation and other products like pasteurised milk; cheese and yogurt would be made from it.

“The 10th of every month would be celebrated as ‘milk production day’,” said Rawat. He added that every month officials would go up to the block level to hold meetings with farmers and solve their practical difficulties and motivate them further.

“The farmers will immensely benefit from these schemes and increase their incomes,” he added.

In July 2007, the government had passed the Uttarakhand Protection of Cow Progeny Bill, 2007, making strict provisions against killing or mistreating of cows. In doing so, the state had repealed the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, that was adopted in November 2000.

According to provisions of the law, a ban has been imposed on the slaughter of cows except those diseased or injured. Anyone found guilty under the act would be liable for rigorous imprisonment from three to ten years. In addition, a fine would slapped that would not be less than Rs 5,000 and can be extended up to Rs 10,000.



Fervour marks Day 1 of ITBP Basant Mela 
Divya Semwal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 6
A three-day Basant Mela, organised by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), opened here today. The mela is celebrated after every two to four years, and various cultural activities are held to mark the onset of spring.

"In 1976, the ITBP purchased this land during spring and ever since the mela is celebrated here," said Kuldeep Singh, ITBP head constable.

The chief guest on the occasion was Vikram Srivastava, Director General, ITBP (Dehradun).

The programme began with a dazzling dance performance by Kendriya Vidyalaya (ITBP) students, which was followed by dances of Garhwal, Punjab and Gujarat.

"Children were very enthusiastic about their performances and we thoroughly enjoyed each moment," said Neelam Kohli, a teacher at 
the school.

However, the main attraction of the day was a dog show, which was widely appreciated by the audience. "Our Labradors and German Shepherds did an excellent job today," said Kuldeep Singh. This was followed by a demonstration of karate by an ITBP contingent.

Attractive stalls of Uttarakhand tourism, Survey of India, State Bank of India, Kumaon Vikas Mandal Nigam etc were set up on the occasion. Food stalls offering Chinese and South Indian delicacies were also a big hit among people. "A total of 60 stalls, including food, clothes and handicrafts, have been set up for people to enjoy," added Kuldeep Singh.

Children especially had fun riding the giant wheel, Columbus train and playing other games. "I loved the dog show and even enjoyed rides on the giant wheel," said Kalpana, a student.

The chief guest for the closing ceremony will be state chief secretary Indu Kumar Pandey.



Warm winter keeps winged guests away
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 6
Climate change continues to pose a big threat to avian fauna across the globe and Uttarakhand is no exception.

There has been a substantial decrease in the number of migratory birds arriving at the wetlands even as the winter seem to be fast coming to an end. Assan as well as other wetlands in the state have reported arrival of less number of migratory birds this time.

The Assan Conservation Reserve has failed to attract even 5,000 birds this winter while it was home to as many as 6,517 migratory birds last winter.

This decrease in number at Assan comes at a time when there have been a series of efforts to ensure a better stay for migratory birds. Bird watchers are attributing this decrease to climate change being witnessed in the region these days.

“We have lesser migratory birds arriving at Assan this time as climate change continues to be detrimental to the arrival of these birds. As it is already February, not many more birds are expected,” said BP Gupta, conservator, Yamuna circle, who conducts waterfowl census at the reserve every year.

Notably, there has also been a decrease in the number of bird species visiting Assan. Last winter, as many as 36 species of migratory birds reached Assan including the golden eye. The golden eye was reported at the reserve after almost two decades.

Migratory birds arriving at Ramganga reservoir and other wetlands have also reported a decline in arrivals this season.

Those engaged in the study of birds see climate change as the biggest threat to avian fauna. “The birds have been hit the hardest by climate change,” said Nanda Nautiyal of the Department of Environmental Sciences, GB Pant University. “Even in western countries like United Kingdom, seven out of the nine common species of wading birds have shifted from the warm west to the colder east in response to milder winters. This amply demonstrates the ill effects of global warming,” she added.

There have been little of winters in Dehradun this year and its effect has been witnessed on both flora and fauna. Early flowering has been recorded in 'burans', mangoes and other fruits.



The charm of Tehri ‘nath’
Divya Semwal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 6
For women in Uttarakhand, traditional ‘nath’ (nose ring) is a prized possession. It is a must have for every married women here.

In Garwhal region, the most famous nath is of Tehri district.

It is big in size and is embedded with precious rubies and pearls. “People in Uttarakhand stick to their traditions and culture and nath being an auspicious ornament, they make their brides wear it on their wedding day,” said Upendra Singh, a Jewellers.

In spite of being big and heavy, women still consider it as a very important part of their culture and do not mind spending Rs 10,000 to Rs 25000 per piece. “As per the tradition, maternal uncle gifts a nath to the bride on her wedding day,” said Vijay Bagga, a jeweller.

With the course of time, the designs have been improvised and presently there are around 50 designs available in the market. “As young girls find it little difficult to wear this big and heavy piece of jewellery, we have introduced small pieces in new patterns,” said Upendra.

Tehri’s nath is in demand among the non-Garhwali people also. Its craze is not just confined to Uttarakhand, the traditional jewellery lovers from 
other states also visit here to buy a piece of ethnic jewellery for their duaghters,” said Mukesh Arora, another jeweller. 



Gurukul chemistry dept wins dance contest
Tribune News Service

Haridwar, February 6
The Vasantotsava fest organised at the Gurukul Girls College concluded yesterday. The event featured quiz, classical dance performances, recitals, mehendi competition and debates.

The chemistry department team of Chavi Chauan, Monika, Ritika and Gauri bagged the first prize in the open dance event while microbiology and physics department girls came second and third respectively.

In quiz, Bindu, Sheetal, Vandana and Anupriya emerged winners in different categories.

In the rangoli competition, Nivedita, Khusbhu and Sheetal came on top while in mehendi contest, Babita, Shubhadra and Anupriya emerged winners.

In poetry recitation, Pallavi Bhatiya, Pallavi Malik and Sarita took the top honours. Principal Dr Sangeeta Vidhyalankar exhorted the students to work hard in a field of their interest. 



Pebbles opens 2nd branch
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 6
Pebbles, a preparatory school, recently opened its second branch in Jodi village near here to provide easy access to children living in this far-off area.

“There are many preparatory schools in the city but there are not many in the outskirts. Our aim is to provide opportunities to children who are putting up here. Parents will save on time and energy by enrolling their kids with us,” said Anju Malik, principal of the school.

“Modern methods like CDs and educative toys are a part of our curriculum,” added Malik.



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