Tapping energy or sapping the Himalayas? Chandi Prasad Bhatt A series of dams are being planned on the Ganga between the Gangotri glacier and Uttarkashi to generate hydropower. The government has an economic agenda that requires huge amount energy. Well, it can go ahead, but only after it has satisfied me on seven counts. There should be a detailed,

Tapping energy or sapping the Himalayas -report by Chandi Prasad Bhatt, eminent activist and environmentalist A series of dams are being planned on the Ganga between the Gangotri glacier and Uttarkashi to generate hydropower. The government has an economic agenda that requires huge amount energy. Well, it can go ahead, but only after it has satisfied me on seven counts. There should be a detailed, in-depth study of the geology and the structures, by a team of scientists whose credential is proven and who should be inducted from reputed research organizations.

Yoga guru Swami Ramdev will now play a key role in the campaign to save the Ganga river, which is being spearheaded by the Ganga Raksha Manch. The Yoga guru and other sadhus participating in the campaign to save the Ganga will use the mala (garland) and the bhala (trident) to convince people to join in. "With the mala, we will welcome people to contribute and do shramdaan in the campaign and with the bhala we will impress upon them the cultural, religious and national significance of the Ganga river," a spokesman of the Ganga Raksha Manch told this correspondent on Friday.

Environmentalists and social activists led by G D Aggarwal are headed for Delhi to continue with their campaign against construction of power projects between Gangotri and Uttarkashi. After the Uttarakhand Government decided to halt work on the Pala Maneri and Bhiron Ghati projects, the campaigners are now targeting the 600-mw Lohari Nagpala project being executed by the National Thermal Power Corporation. Aggarwal's fast unto death entered its 10th day on Sunday when he left the Manikarnika ghats of Uttarkashi to shift base to Delhi.

The decision of Prof G.D. Agarwal, who has been on a 'fast unto death' for the past week against power projects on the Ganga, to direct his agitation against the Central government following the shelving of two power projects by the BJP state government has politicised the issue. While Agarwal refused to end his fast and decided to target the Union government, the Uttarakhand Congress leaders alleged that the 'Sangh Parivar' has hijacked his agitation for their petty political interests. Interestingly, the state government has promised to support him in his fight against the Centre.

The term bioprospecting has been widely used to assess the economic potential of different plant species and their value-addition. Our folklore with embedded cultural heritage has tremendous possibilities and potential for bioprospecting. Among the over 8000 species of flowering plants growing in the Himalaya, nearly 4000 are identified from the Garhwal Himalayan region. This part of region enjoyed a significant place throughout its history.

After Uttarakhand, it is the turn of the Himachal Pradesh government to stop Van Gujjars, nomadic tribals, from migrating to highland pastures in the state despite promulgation of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (recognition of forest rights) Act on January 1, 2008. A total of 432 Van Gujjar families comprising more than 1,000 members and thousands of milch animals are stranded. This year these tribals have been denied entry to their traditional grasslands in Shimla district.

Uttarakhand forests are smouldering, leading to a loss of forest wealth worth crores, besides invaluable damage to flora and fauna. These raging fires have also claimed two human lives. With mercury soaring high, forest fires have engulfed large areas in the Garhwal as well as the Kumaon regions of the state. State government officials have requested the remote sensing agency to provide satellite imagery of the prevailing fires to know the exact damage.

Agro-technologies for cultivation of a number of medicinal plants have been developed but large scale cultivation of medicinal plants on farm lands in Uttarakhand is yet to begin. Among other causes for this gap, lack of reasonable correct information on economics of cultivation of medicinal plants is one important cause.

Man eating by leopards has been a major problem in some hilly districts of Uttaranchal particularly since early nineties. This has been a matter of serious concern for Forest Department, politicians, conservationists, scientists and the local people.

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