04HP01A.qxd 9/3/2013 7:34 PM Page 1 c Shimla m VIGNETTES 22° 13° b y 3 Two books on poetry written by Shimla poets HIMACHAL DIARY Farmers question claims about decline in population of monkeys, langurs 4 The Tribune Himachal Plus Shimla Wednesday September 4 2013 www.tribuneindia.com Encroachers rob Solang valley of its beauty Verve for life KULDEEP CHAUHAN TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE SOLANG NALLAH (MANALI), SEPTEMBER 3 Children perform during the annual day function of Euro Kids at the Gaiety Theatre in Shimla. Photo: Amit Kanwar Bangalore co. offers ecological solutions to state cement plants Board concerned over depleting tea lands in Kangra Race for party ticket in BJP, Cong begins in Kangra OUR CORRESPONDENT OUR CORRESPONDENT PALAMPUR, SEPTEMBER 3 The race for the party ticket in BJP as well as in Congress has begun in Kangra. The leaders of both the parties are making their claims for the party ticket from Kangra-Chamba having 17 assembly segments. Chander Kumar, a former Member of Parliament and a senior Congress leader, has already begun his election campaign in Kangra and Chamba districts. Chander Kumar belongs to the OBC Chaudry community. Besides, Chander Kumar, Major Vijay Singh Mankotia, GS Bali and Asha Kumari are also in the league. Both factions of the BJP headed by Shanta Kumar and former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal are also making claims for the party ticket from Kangra-Chamba, one of the most politically significant parliament seat. The sitting BJP MP, Rajan Sushant, has been suspended from the party. Therefore, the BJP is in search of a new face. In the last assembly elections, the BJP had suffered a humiliating defeat in Kangra by winning only three seats out of fifteen. There are three main claimants for the party ticket in the BJP which includes Ghanshyam Sharma, Trilok Kapoor and Krishan Kapoor. Krishan Kapoor and Trilok Kapoor belong to the Gaddi community. Ghanshyam Sharma hails from the Dhumal faction of the BJP. During the BJP regime, Dhumal had installed him as chairman of the state pensioners welfare board. Trilok Kapoor, former Chairman of the State Wool Federation, is also making efforts for the party ticket. CHAMBA, SEPTEMBER 3 With an objective of providing environmental solutions to the industrial development, including the setting up of cement plants in Himachal Pradesh, the Eco Green Fuels Pvt Ltd (EGF), a company headquartered in Bangalore, is in the forefront. This was revealed by Julesh Bantia, founder director of the EGF in a communiqué here recently. He said his team had toured Chamba district twice with a vision of promoting the use of green fuel to conserve the non-renewable sources of energy and re-nurturing the eco-balance with the best workable solutions for industries and wastelands in Himachal Pradesh, which has been largely known for its salubrious climate and scenic beauty free from air and noise pollution. “To begin with, the company has identified Chamba region for working with the concept of providing village employment, creating green patches on barren hills, help corporates achieve their corporate social responsibility, provide bio-manure to organic farmers and at the Continued on page 2 The Bundla Tea Estate in Palampur. Photo by writer RAVINDER SOOD PALAMPUR, SEPTEMBER 3 The area under tea in the Kangra valley is getting squeezed year after year following the large-scale sale of tea gardens, shortage of labour, non-availability of subsidy on fertilisers, inputs and other assistance from the state government. These facts came to light following a base line survey report released by the Tea Board of India recently. This survey was conducted in 2012-13 on the directions of Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who had also announced a special package for the tea industry during his visit to Palampur in April, 2012. The report said of the 2,390 hectares area under tea in the valley, only in 800 hectares was under actual tea cultivation. Growers had abandoned over 1,400 hectares under tea, while in 22 hectares, tea land had been converted into concrete jungles. However, the report said there was an increase in the number of tea growers from 3,679 to 5,800 in the valley, but this increase was attributed to the partition of tea lands among share holders in the past 15 years. Over all, there was no increase in the number of tea growers in the valley. Earlier, such a survey was conducted in 1996-97. Sources said in the present scenario, the special package for the Kangra tea industry announced by the Government of India could face rough whether because small tea growers had shown no interest in the revival of their abandoned tea gardens. Besides, the Union Commerce Minister had also fixed a target to enhance the area under tea cultivation from 2,390 hectares to 7,600 hectares which looked quite impossible. Even after one year, the ruling Congress government in the state had shown no interest for the revival of the Kangra tea industry or making available additional land available for tea cultivation in the valley. Tea is being cultivated and manufactured in the Kangra valley since the middle of the last century. It was first introduced between 1830 and 1840, by European tea planters, known as Nissan Tea Company. The valley grows the hybrid China tea known to be rich in flavour and compares favorably with the tea grown in other parts of the world. Perhaps few know that Kangra tea was awarded the gold medal at an exhibition in London in 1886. Until 1905, Kangra tea was rated the finest in the world. The Kangra earthquake of 1905 proved fatal when it destroyed a large number of tea gardens, tea factories and several tea planters were killed. The then British administration declared the valley as an unsafe zone and almost all the European tea planters left the valley after selling their plantations to Indians. c m y b Encroachers, who run stalls here on either side of the approach road of the south portal of the 8.82-km Rohtang tunnel, have ruined the face of the ski resort, a major sight-seeing and paragliding hub for tourists visiting Manali. From the take-off spot to the landing site of paragliding, the Solang resort looks like a plundered field as all its greenery and beauty have become the thing of the past. The stall owners, paragliding pilots, children games and scooter operators and horse-rides wallas catering to tourists have turned this resort into a free-for-all. The Solang-Rohtang Pass comes under the Special Area Development Authority (SADA). But there is no earmarked space for the stalls and the game activities for children, no proper landing sites for the paragliding pilots, no tracks for horses and no proper toilets for tourists. The toilet were being run in a shack and it stank as it had no water, resented tourists During the peak summer season, there are instances when the paragliding pilots carrying tourist in-tandem flights from the takeoff points, land on the tourists standing on the Solang ground that results in severe injuries, revealed locals. About 500 tourist vehicles chock Solang here daily during the peak summer time. There are just about 80 registered pilots who have licenses, but in fact as many as 250 paragliding pilots operate in the ground round the year. “We are helpless as all over efforts to regulate the commercial paragliding activity have failed”, lamented Roshan Thakur, president of paragliding association. During the rains, the resort turns into a big muddy pond. In dry and windy season, it witnesses dust storms with tourists running for cover. Most stalls inside the Solang ground are run by local villagers who claim their bartandari rights on this historic and sacred ground named after the 100 naags (serpents). But they have rented the stalls to outsiders. These stalls cater to the regular stream of tourists who come here for the paragliding joy rides, a detour to top of the Solang valley on the ropeways, being run on a lease basis by a private operator, who charges Rs 500 per head per trip. Singhi Ram, pradhan gram panchayat, Palchan said they have jurisdiction over the area, but the land is the forest land in which the villagers have traditional rights. “But we need to regulate the activity there to restore the lost greenery of the vale”, he added. All activities were run by the villagers from Burwa gram panchayat who claimed their 85 per cent rights over the glade. It is a matter of livelihood for them as they depend on tourists, said the stalls operators. Sub-divisional magistrate Manali Vinay Dhiman said the administration had been asking all stakeholders to work for better regulation as the land belonged to the forest department. The action would be taken against the encroachers as per law, he asserted.
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