Saturday, October 1, 2016

Uttarakhand biodiversity board selects 13 sacred groves for eco-tourism

DEHRADUN: Local residents have dedicated around 400 sacred groves to their deities and hence have shunned tree felling or any other exploitation of natural resources which help in conservation of biodiversity. The Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) has selected 13 sacred groves for eco-tourism, out of which four are underway for approval from the state’s forest department.

Here the villagers will be trained to start eco-tourism activity. These four forests include Tadkeshwar in Pauri Garhwal, Saim Mukhim in Tehri, Dhurka Devi in Almora and Thal Kedar in Pithoragarh.

Chairman of UBB, Rakesh Shah said, “The sacred groves will be managed by a committee which will be provided finances to be used judiciously for maintenance of forests. A Biodiversity Management Committee will be formed and trained for marketing of non-timbre forest products and eco-tourism activities. ”

Many such forests also happen to have some rare and endangered flora and fauna species. Thal Kedar will become the first sacred grove of the state. It is spread over 1315 hectare and is eight kilometre from Pithoragarh in Kumaon. There are 200 species of medicinal plants and 663 other species of plants.

S S Rasailey, member secretary of the board said, “Villagers visit Thal Kedar on Shivratrti and Kartik Purnimas as pilgrimage. A week prior to the pilgrimage, villagers forsake meat, liquor, onion and garlic. Any infringement would debar the person.”

Women and people belonging to scheduled castes are barred from entering the sacred groves. The villagers believe that any breach in these rules will bring repercussions such as crop failure, disease outbreak etc and whenever these taboos are transgressed, they hold a penance ceremony to appease the deities.

Also, no NGOs will be approached for this project as the villagers are mostly apprehensive about outside interference in their sacred groves.


State launches "Kushal Uttarakhand" app for youngsters

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand Skill Development Mission (UKSDM) initiated the first-of-its kind two-day workshop in the city titled 'Synergy' where personnel from over 60 departments of the state and central government who are involved in skilling programs, came under one platform for the purpose of coordinating for the idea and theme of "Skilled Uttarakhand" which intends to improve the skillsets of unemployed youth in the hill state.

As per conservative estimates there are over 5 lakh unemployed youth in the state but only 12,000 registered unemployed with UKSDM and the mission plans to skill 10,000 youth of Uttarakhand this year i.e by 2016-17 and 5 lakh youth in the next 5 years. Based on deliberations, the impact of the workshop will be assessed and in the near future skills' supply-demand gap analysis and policy analysis will be done to present the best of opportunities to the youngsters in the state considering the state has huge scope of skilled manpower which is still untapped.

The various dignitaries present came with an aim to ensure that benefits of skilling programs must reach to unemployed youth of all sections of the state in plains and even in the far flung hilly regions to enable youth for start-up, entrepreneurship or wage/salary employment prospects. Even as MOUs were exchanged by UKSDM with various sector skill councils (SSC), the representatives of varied sector skill councils deliberated upon different sectors like beauty and wellness, tourism and hospitality, apparel, handicrafts and carpet sector , life sciences sector, food processing sector, sports, physical education besides many others and their scope and reach in Uttarakhand, following which interactive sessions of the participants were held to establish the fact that there is still tremendous scope to skill the youth of the state and give them employment opportunities.

Om Prakash, IAS, Principal Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand while inaugurating "SYNERGY" said, "UKSDM is indeed quite important in the context of the state and majority of unemployed and unskilled youth here. All departments through this workshop will come closer to one another as far as coordination for skilled Uttarakhand is concerned." Prakash appreciated the initiatives taken by UKSDM in path of achieving goal of Skilled Uttarakhand and launched a mobile app "Kushal Uttarakhand" (available to be downloaded on google Playstore or UKSDM official website).

It is learnt that trained youth, unemployed workers can register themselves through this "Kushal Uttarakhand" app and it aims to be helpful for skilled youth in the state like- carpenter, electrician, and plumber etc by making them available for current jobs in the market. Users can also search place wise skill- training centers in all 13 districts of Uttarakhand besides district wise records and the app will disseminate information between skilled job seekers and job providers and be of much help to reach the untouched area in the hill state with ease.

Dr Pankaj Kumar Pandey, IAS, Project Director, UKSDMemphasized the need of such workshop for the sake of better coordination amongst all departments involved in skilling youth and he said, "There should be continuous deliberation, communication and dissemination of skill related information between agencies involved in certification of courses and agencies involved in training/skilling youth in the state as to how to accommodate with dynamic changes in skilling supply and demand in the job market. Our mobile app "KUSHAL UTTARAKHAND" is an initiative for reaching at the door of unskilled unemployed youth and help them get skilled. All we want is to get the youth of our state skilled with quality training"

While other members from the Centre like Jyotsana Sitling, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship mentioned the importance of Nation Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in terms of skilling programs and stated that she expects through this workshop better coordination willl be established amongst all government departments for skilling people.

D Senthil Pandiyan, Secretary, Technical Education and Manisha Panwar, IAS, Principal Secretary, Uttarakhand also stated that it is high time we tap the young talent of the state and skill them to their optimum capacity. Besides SSCs, the other participants includedMSDE, NSDA, NSDC and many other agencies. UKSDM was started in Uttarakhand in 2013 with the mission to skill the youth of the state and address the challenges of unemployment.


Uttarakhand Skill Development Mission's two-day workshop concludes

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand Skill Development Mission (UKSDM)'s two-day workshop 'Synergy" aimed at creating coordination among varied departments for the theme of "Skilled Uttarakhand" concluded on Friday and deliberations over the ways to hone the youth of the state in skill development are likely to play a good role in making at least 10,000 youth in the state employable by 2017. In a bid to give a boost to the mission of making the unemployed youth of the hill state skilled in requisite sectors, "Uttarakhand Training Information Portal" was also launched by UKSDM on the concluding day.

Dr Pankaj Kumar Pandey, Project Director, UKSDM said, "The workshop proved that there is tremendous scope for manpower recruitment in the state in varied sectors like tourism and hospitality, renewable energy sector besides many others and the need of the hour is to train and skill them. In fact, we already have signed MOUs with over 20 sector skill councils which include agriculture, tourism and hospitality, telecom, health, beauty and wellness which will be of major help in achieving our aim of skilling the maximum youth of our state with required skills"

Adding to which, Pandey said, "Uttarakhand Training Information Portal is meant for all departments concerned with skilling activities. Departments are expected to provide their information relating to skill development activities so that all information can be available with UKSDM being a nodal agency for information as to skills in the state. This way the state government in future at all times will have the exact record and database of training going on, the needed skills and bridge the gap if any, thereby creating employment opportunities in varied sectors as per demand and supply analysis"

UKSDM claims that such workshop has been organised for the first time not just in the city but the state and will be instrumental in establishing better coordination amongst all department that are concerned with skilling youth in the state. Even though the mission aims to aims to skill 5 lakh youth in the state in next 5 years, it is trying to hold such workshops which will now be analysed, such that more than quantity, the UKSDM emphasize on quality skilled youth.

Initiatives taken by UKSDM like the launch of the mobile app -"KUSHAL UTTARAKHAND" which will bring together job seekers and job providers thereby boosting employment opportunities as per skills in the state and the launch of "Uttarakhand Training Information Portal" which will have information about all departments and the requisite skill related activities being conducted, skills required and the gap needed to be filled by training besides the current skilled youth available in the sectors were applauded by all those involved in the sector of giving a fillip to skill training,

Meanwhile, Nidhi Gautam, consultant, National Skill Development Agency under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship who had come from New Delhi to attend the workshop said, "I was happy to attend and update participants about the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) concepts. It is imperative that such workshops are regularly conducted to bring together people from all sectors and departments who can collectively come together and brainstorm and come up with solutions to train and skill youth across India."

Uttarakhand high court tells ex-CMs to vacate residences

NAINITAL: Uttarakhand high court on Friday, taking a strict stand in the case of ex-CMs occupying residences government provided residences, asked the ex-CMs to 'vacate gracefully'. The HC has posted matter on Monday at 2 pm and asked the counsels of the ex-CM's to tell the court that how much time they need to vacate the houses.

The division bench of chief justice K M Joseph and justice VK Bisht taking a tough stand while hearing remarked, "You should gracefully vacate or we will have to pass orders." Counsel of the ex-CMs Nishank, Bahuguna, Khanduri and Koshyari assured the court that they will vacate.

Standing Counsel of the state also assured the court that N D Tiwari will also have to vacate the house in the light of Supreme Court Order. The bench further added, "Now you should vacate the government houses."

Kartikey Hari Gupta, counsel for the petitioner told TOI, "We vehemently argued before the honorable court that simply vacating the house will not suffice as the occupancy was itself illegal from the start as the law citing which the residences were allotted applies only in the Lucknow city of Uttar Pradesh. Government must take market rent from these illegal occupants."

On August 1, the Supreme Court's ordered the ex-CMs of Uttar Pradesh to vacate their bungalows within two months. The apex court had declared UP ex-Chief Minister Allotment of Residences Rules 1997 illegal and unconstitutional and asked the UP state government to recover rent for the government bungalows for the whole period of illegal stay from the ex-CMs of UP.

The ex-CMs who have occupied the houses include ND Tiwari, Bhagat Singh Koshayri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri and Vijay Bahuguna.

The petition filed by a Dehradun-based NGO had pleaded that a lot of taxpayers' money was being spent on providing official accommodation to the ex-chief ministers of Uttarakhand, all of whom have their own houses where they can stay. In April, this year the state in its affidavit said that all facilities except residence of the ex-CMs have been withdrawn.

The petitioner has asserted in his pleadings that as per the UP ex-Chief Minister Allotment of Residences Rules 1997 is not applicable for the former CMs of Uttarakhand. In his PIL, Avdhesh Kaushal, a Padma Shri awardee, had mentioned a list of houses owned by the former chief ministers to highlight the fact that despite having 'huge houses' as per the affidavits submitted by them, the ex-CMs had allotted themselves 'furnished palatial bungalows' along with staff and official vehicles on the basis of a personal memo issued by them without approval from the state assembly. 


NGT plea against new Assembly building in Uttarakhand

The plea contends that the project at Gairsain area of Chamoli district in central Uttarakhand has been started without obtaining environmental clearance

An environmental activist has moved the National Green Tribunal seeking a stay on the construction of a new legislative assembly building of Uttarakhand on the ground that the project lacks mandatory clearances.

The plea contends that the project at Gairsain area of Chamoli district in central Uttarakhand has been started without obtaining Environmental Clearance and consent as required under Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control) Act, 1974 in eco-fragile area of the Himalayas.

The plea moved by environmental activist Vikrant Tongad has made Ministry of Environment and Forests, Uttarakhand government, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, State Pollution Control Board, National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd. and Central Ground Water Authority as parties in the case.

Tongad states the project, which will come up on a 100-acre land parcel, will have the assembly building, offices catering to the assembly, MLA hostels for 60 residents, officers’ hostel for 60 residents, VIP residences for 16 ministers, residence for chief minister, speaker and deputy speaker and a helipad.

“The construction of Legislative Assembly building is being done in 100 acre land and total built up area is 20, 812 sq.m without obtaining Environmental Clearance under Environment Impact Assessment notification, 2006,” it said.

The plea, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, claims that the sewage generated during the operation will be around 65 kilolitre per day, but no provision for installation of sewage treatment plant has been made to treat this huge amount of sewage.

“Pass an order staying the ongoing construction of the new legislative assembly of the State of Uttarakhand at Bharisain, Gairsain at the Chamoli district in the central part of Uttarakhand till the disposal of the plea,” the petition said.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Second dengue death in Uttarakhand

Dehradun: Uttarakhand records second dengue death on Tuesday. The death of a 71-year-old man from Park Road, Dehradum was confirmed late eve by the health department.

"Dehradun has registered this season's second dengue death today as a 71-year patient succumbed to the virus at Max hospital. The ELISA report has.come out positive." said Dr. YS Thapliyal, chief medical officer, Dehradun. The first death was recorded on August 15 of a 10-year child of Darbhanga basti in Dun due to dengue.

The total count of patients has touched 1226 in Uttarakhand with majority of them 963 bulked in state capital Dehradun. 


India to set up nuclear plants in Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana

NEW DELHI: The central government is looking at possible sites in the northern states of Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana for setting up new atomic power plants, a minister said on Tuesday.

"We are exploring the possibility of having such establishments in other places, for example near Dehradun in Utarakhand and near Patiala in Punjab. We are also looking for a place in Bhiwani in Haryana," Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said while addressing a conference here on nuclear power organised by industry chamber Assocham. The present government can stake claim of having set up an atomic energy plant in Gorakhpur in Haryana, so we have brought atomic energy northwards which it had been waiting for 60-70 years and we made it to cross through Delhi because atomic energy never had the opportunity to see the capital of this country," he added.

The Prime Minister's Office looks after the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

Of the 22 nuclear power plants in the country, the majority are located in western and southern India.

Singh said most of the atomic energy generation was confined mostly to Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

"Atomic energy had remained confined to certain parts of the country, in Tarapur for obvious reasons because Dr Bhabha had set up his first establishment in Mumbai then we had south but we hardly had any presence in north India," he said. 

"The nuclear power plant being set up in Haryana will become operational by about next year at the cost of just Rs 6 per unit," he added.