Queen of Hills readies for facelift
Fish in troubled waters
Banks to get CCTV cameras soon
Queen of Hills readies for facelift
Mussoorie, March 28
Lack of parking, frequent traffic jams, water scarcity, encroachments on Mall Road, lack of housing for economically weaker sections, lack of a town hall in Mussoorie may all be things of the past as various projects to address these issues will soon be underway.
Lack of adequate parking, a major problem that tourist have to face, will be solved soon as the municipality has already got Rs 14 crore from the state government for the construction of three mega-parkings.
“These new parkings are expected to provide sufficient space for the vehicles of tourists. After the parkings become functional, the existing parkings at Picture Palace and the library will be made available exclusively for the locals," OP Uniyal, chairman of the Municipal Board said.
Tourists will no longer face long queues and frequent traffic jams on both entrances to the Mall at the time of paying entry fee.
“We have entered into a PPP mode with a Delhi-based company which will bear the entire cost of construction of the electric barriers,” Dinesh Badoni, a member of the municipal board said. The manual barriers at present are very slow.
These high-tech barriers are expected to speed up the vehicle entry and hence reduce queues thereby preventing traffic jams.
“The work has started and these barriers will be operational by the first week of May,” Uniyal said.
Over 20 lakh tourists visit Mussoorie each year and during the peak tourist season, traffic congestions and inadequate parking facilities cause headaches to the local administration and frustration to the tourists.
OP Uniyal, chairman of the municipal board has been making determined efforts to improve basic infrastructural facilities in the town since assuming office last year.
A Rs 51-crore project under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) has also been sanctioned for repair of existing lines and laying of new sewer lines across Mussoorie.
Moreover, the municipal board is also supporting the Jal Sansthan in developing another Rs 14 crore project for increasing the water pumping and supply capacity of the town.
Another ambitious projects is the construction of a housing colony for lower and middle income groups (LIG and MIG). For this, the municipality has entered into a joint venture with the MDDA for constructing 130 flats in Hussain Gunj area. The municipality will sell these houses at subsidised rates to the locals.
This move has been welcomed by the residents as the economically weaker sections are facing a scarcity of housing in the town particularly since the price of property have skyrocketed in the recent past.
“We have been unable to buy a house of our own due to high property prices but hopefully, now we will have a house soon,” said an elated Varun Rawat.
Speaking about this project Uniyal said, “This is my dream project. I am sure it will help a number of needy families.” According to him, the houses will be provided on a no-profit-no-loss basis.
Funds for the construction of a new town hall building have also been approved. Plans for a three-storey multipurpose complex are on the anvil. This complex is expected to have an auditorium, a community hall and a guest house. It is expected to cost about Rs 4.5 crore.
Other initiatives like widening of bends at the Kincraig-Picture Palace and Kincraig-Gandhi Chowk road have also been proposed.
To control encroachment on the Mall, hawkers and street vendors will be regularised and shops will be alloted to them. Beautification of the Mall is also being taken up through an initiative of the MDDA.
Although the residents are demanding immediate implementation of these projects, the code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections has put a spanner in the works.
“We can initiate the work only after the elections,” Uniyal said. He added that after the elections, the work would be taken up on a priority basis.
Meanwhile, president of Mussoorie Traders Association Rajat Aggarwal has welcomed these initiatives. “These initiatives are expected to boost tourism in the town and hence provide a spurt to the local economy,” Aggarwal said.
“Proper implementation of these projects has the potential to benefit every section of the local business community from the rickshaw-puller to the local shopkeeper to the hotelier,” he added.
However, Aggarwal said that these schemes require to be implemented with the active involvement of all sections of society.
Dumanpuri, March 28
For the purpose, the authorities have been eyeing on the old railway girder bridge - Balawali Pul - located at this last village on the Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand border, around 50 kms from Roorkee, across the Ganga.
The 900m bridge, which links the state with UP, was discarded by the Railways four years back after the construction of new bridge. Being a short cut to reach Bijnaur, the bridge, which is over 100 years old, is being used, though illegally, by commuters of both states.
A fortnight back, a team of UP Public Works Department has examined the feasibility of opening of the bridge for road traffic on the instructions of Kumbh Mela officer, Haridwar.
SK Aggarwal, executive engineer, PWD (UP), said that with the regular opening of this bridge for road traffic, the pressure on National Highway-58 from Delhi to Dehradun would get reduced drastically.
“As the bridge is being used illegally (the government has restricted any movement on the bridge) by hundreds of the people daily, we were instructed to check the feasibility of opening it for vehicular traffic during the mela,” said Aggarwal.
It has also been a long-pending demand of the residents to open the bridge or construct a new one as the link saves a distance of around 60 km for the people on both sides of the river.
In fact, there is a proposal with the UP government to construct a permanent bridge here. An estimate has already been prepared by the authorities, added Aggarwal while maintaining that with the construction of the bridge, a direct road link between Punjab and Haryana and the Lucknow belt of UP would also be set up.
There is a need to construct a new bridge here as the old railway bridge does not seem fit to be opened to vehicular traffic.
“The condition of the bridge is not good. Its top members have become weak and can cause a mishap anytime,” said Aggarwal.
However, the officer maintained that the required repairs would be made if asked by the authorities to open it during the mela.
“We have checked the bridge. The report will be submitted soon,” he said.
Fish in troubled waters
Dehradun, March 28
A study by Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training (CSWCRT) institute scientists has brought to the fore these destructive fishing practices. Scientists M Muruganandam and J Jayaprakash, who conducted the study, have highlighted the environmental implications of the same.
The study reveals that villagers inject a form of powder that draws out oxygen from water bodies, which ultimately leads to the death of fish.
The intensity of fishing increases during summers as the low flow forces the fish to stay confined to small crevices, which makes them more vulnerable.
Similarly, during monsoon, the high flow brings down a large number of fish from the upstream areas. This also coincides with the spawning period due to which many egg-carrying fish are also harvested.
During the course of the study 70 per cent of the respondents admitted that catch size had declined over the years with destructive fishing practices.
As many as 13 plant species are used for preparing fish poison, including Zanthoxylum armatum, Agave americana, Yacca spp, Euporbia royleiana, Casearia tomentosa and Randia dumentorium.
The study reveals that middle-aged farmers practiced regular and frequent fishing within 1 to 5 km of their villages.
Indiscriminate fishing also takes place during community-based fishing festivals. These are, however, an integral part of the socio-religious fabric of people here. Albeit the Fisheries Department is soft on villagers who use nets and other traditional methods for their daily needs, it takes strong exception to the usage of dynamite and poison.
“We have recently hired powerboats to counter destructive killing of fish in our reservoirs,” said Harish Chauhan, an official from the fisheries department. He informed that the vigil is stepped up during the spawning period to prevent harvest of egg-carrying fish. “There is no denying the fact that people use poison, mostly bleaching powder, to kill fish,” said RS Thapa, who prepares fishing nets.
Banks to get CCTV cameras soon
Roorkee, March 28
SSP Sanjay Gunjyal said the CCTVs will be installed in all the banks including those which are situated in the rural areas.
“The cameras will help the police to keep vigil on the activities of the miscreants,” said the police officer.
Banks in the rural areas would also be equipped with the technology as they are more vulnerable. “In fact, we have started the action by installing cameras in the State Bank of India (SBI) branch at Bhagwanpur town.
Very soon, the branches of Punjab National Bank (PNB) and other co-operative banks in the town would be equipped with cameras soon,” said Gunjyal.
Officer further said other necessary instructions have also been passed to all the circle officers to intensify vigil in and around the banks round the clock.
Gunjyal also added that almost all the banks of the area would be covered under the project, which would be completed within two months.