Himalayan Niti Abhidyan’s campaign for forest dwellers’ rights in Great Himalayan National Park, declared as world heritage site

himalaya

By Guman Singh*

A public consultation on the issue of Great Himalaya National Park (GHNP) was held on October 17, 2014 at Niharni in Sainj valley. No official information or communication was received by the people on this. The consultation was held despite an assurance from the Deputy Commissioner, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, on world heritage site status for the GHNP. It was necessary that wide publicity for was ensured, so that majority of people of the area could participate in it. In fact, information about the consultation was received from Rajender Chauhan, director, Sahara, on October 16 evening. He was informed by forest officials by telephone on October 14, regarding the meeting.  A request was sent forthwith to postpone the consultation, with the request that before the next date of public consultation, proper information with agenda is provided to general public in writing.

Issues that were discussed related to cultural and livelihood forest rights and practices in the GHNP and Tirthan and Sainj wildlife sanctuaries. This was important, as people living inside the protected area and the peripheral Eco Zone have forest rights which are recognised by the World Heritage Committee. These also need to be recognized under the Schedule Tribe and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, or forest Rights Act (FRA), which is still in the process of implementation.

Another issue which was to be taken up at the consultation was merger of wildlife sanctuaries into the GHNP before providing the GHNP a world heritage tag, as proposed by the WHC. Then, there was the issue of acquisition and rehabilitation of Shakti and Maroud villages, which is pending since long before the forest department, because villagers are not ready to shift to an alternate place.

In the light of these issues, some legal procedures needed to be followed, such as recognition of forest rights under the FRA, the need to follow legal procedures for the inclusion of wildlife sanctuaries into national park under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the need to look into procedures for acquiring private land under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. No information, however, was disseminated on the actual agenda of the consultation and for requirement or need of this meeting.

The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan opposed the consultation, as no written agenda was given and no publicity was carried out in stipulated time to enable people to participate. It also opposed it because what was being proposed could not be the exclusive model of conservation. The protection of cultural and traditional forest use rights of the local host community should have been taken into account in any such proposal, as ever since the GHNP was declared as national park by the Government of Himachal Pradesh unilaterally in 1999, the forest department seized forest rights in the Core Zone with in 754.4 sq km, which excludes the wildlife sanctuaries of Tirthan (61 Sq km) and Sainj (90 sq km) and the Eco Zone  (265.6 sq km), where forest rights and practices were partially allowed the 1999 award.

The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan felt that the merger of the sanctuaries into the national park and would displace people. Besides, only 349 families were awarded compensation in lieu of rights, as per Anderson Forest Settlement Report 1884, which is questionable under the law.  People residing in and around are traditional forest dwellers as per the FRA and are dependent on these forests for their bona fide livelihood need, and are the rightful owners of minor forest produce, grazing, fire wood, timber for agriculture appliances and house construction etc. They need to continue with their traditional cultural practices such as performing rituals and visiting holy places of worship inside the core zone of the GHNP.

The FRA applies here because people are still enjoying forest rights in or outside the Core Zone and are in use of rights/practices in Core Zone till date. The rights were illegally seized under the 1999 award and were not properly resettled and compensated as per the commitment. The implementation process of the FRA is so far in the process, and the recognition of rights has not been addressed as per the law. Section 3, 3(1) and 5 of the FRA gives power to other forest dwellers (people of the area comes under this category) to manage and conserve the reserved forests, collect and sale minor forest produce and perform cultural practices.

The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan demanded:

  • Pre-informed and well-publicized public consultation/public hearing should be held before any process is initiated in this regard.
  • The FRA should be implemented in the forest and Nistar rights should be duly recognised and settled as per FRA provisions.
  • People performing rituals and culture practices inside the GHNP should be allowed to continue to it. Thirth and Rakti Sar which lie in the Core Zone are the holy places for thousands of local people of Seraj and many yatras of the local deity take place inside the Core Zone.
  • If GHNP is needed, then people-managed national park should be established, under which power to manage, develop and regulate lies in the hands of the forest dwellers as per FRA provisions.

The GHNP was declared as world heritage site in June 2014 by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO at Doha. The initial proposal was to declare the GHNP and nearby area, including three wildlife sanctuaries, and Pin Parvati National Park and Khirganga National Park, as heritage property naming it as the biosphere zone.  The proposal was opposed by the local host communities, and finally UNESCO could declare the GHNP alone as the World Heritage Site. But it suggested that the neighbouring wildlife sanctuaries should be merged in the GHNP.

The public hearing was conducted for this without due publicity, and yet hundreds of local forest dweller participated. The Divisional Forest Officer in charge of the GHNP in his address proposed to vacate villages Shakti and Maroud, situated inside the Sainj Wildlife Sanctuary. He could not continue his speech because people shouted and opposed the proposal. The gaur (priest) of the local deity, Dharub Rishi, said that this was his land and nobody would be displaced from here.  The Deputy Commissioner invited Rajender Chauhan, the representative of the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan and other local leaders to speak. He opposed the move of the forest department and demanded that the forest rights be recognised under the FRA in the wildlife sanctuary as well as the GHNP.

Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwer clarified in his address that no authority could displace people of Shakti and Maroud or snatch away forest rights of the forest dwellers because of the provisions of the FRA. He also said that the district was seeking support from the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan for training forest rights committees (FRCs) and officials concerned.

The background of GHNP

The GHNP was created in 2001, and thousands of families were displaced from their cultural rights, traditional livelihood base, forest land and forest rights. The communities are still fighting for their rights and promises made in the 1999 award during the declaration of the GHNP, which are yet to be fulfilled. During the declaration of the GHNP the forest department made a commitment to give alternate pastures for grazing, alternate forests for enjoying forest rights, the alternate livelihood base – which are yet to be fulfilled. The community feels cheated and apprehends that this new status of World Heritage Site may further alienate them from their forests and forest rights.

The GHNP was notified in 2001 against the backdrop of local host community people opposing it as the exclusive model of conservation, and fought against it between 1996 and 2001. The locals struggled for the protection of traditional forest and cultural rights, but the Government of Himachal Pradesh issued award for creation of the GHNP in 1999 and seized the forest rights in the Core Zone within 754.4 sq km. Compensation was awarded as per the Anderson Forest Settlement Report 1884. Approximately 350 families were awarded compensation, whereas more than 15,000 families having rights in these forests were promised to provide alternate forest land, which is not available, hence it could not be fulfilled. The award is illegal and   questionable under law. Today, the total administrative zone of the GHNP is 1171 sq km, and it includes the Wild Life Sanctuary Tirthan (61 sq km), Wildlife Sanctuary Sainj (90 sq km) and the Eco Zone (265.6 sq km).

The process of declaration of the GHNP as UNESCO World Heritage Site was started in 2012, without prior information or consultation with host communities and gram sabhas. The Forest Department tried its best to keep the voices of the traditional rights holders at bay, and has misled everyone (the Himachal Pradesh government, the Government of India and people in general) by presenting one-sided story, especially to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and UNESCO.

On the eve of June 23, 2014, the GHNP was declared World Heritage Site at Doha with certain conditions. Just 12 minutes were spent to discuss the GHNP case, which shows the triviality to discuss about the local communities, who are agitating against GHNP since 1996. The nomination process of the GHNP as World Heritage Site lasted for two years. This shows the Indian delegation was not serious on the issues agitating the local community and its bona fide livelihood rights along with cultural and religious rights in the GHNP.

Everybody feared, the history is about to repeat itself after 15 years, and the local community is again going to be deprived of their cultural, traditional livelihood and forest rights which they had been practicing since ancient times. However, at the last moment, a major relief came in for the locals, when the state party took its proposal back. This success is attributed to the persistent and dedicated efforts by the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan and the local community based organizations (CBOs).

The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan kept on regularly protesting and appraising all concerned parties, including the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and World Heritage Site delegations from many countries till the last moment. A very important report was published and shared with the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and other concerned parties by the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan on June 18, 2014, which listed 26 major concerns of the locals again the state party’s World Heritage Site proposal to convert the GHNP as a natural World Heritage Site. Majority of the concerns were related to cultural and traditional rights of the locals exercised in Sainj and Tirthan wildlife sanctuaries, which the state party had earlier proposed to transfer as per Wildlife Act 1972. It was the under the continuous push by the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan that the state party took its proposal back after discussions with the IUCN, and agreed not to purse to transfer the protection status from two wildlife sanctuaries of Sainj and Tirthan.

*Coordinator, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Village Khundan, District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

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HIMALAYA ANDOLAN ! – STATEMENT SUBMITED TO HIL LEVEL COMMITTEE

HIMALAYA ANDOLAN !

 

STATEMENT SUBMITED TO HIL LEVEL COMMITTEE

DATE-20-102014

We, over hundred groups and individuals from across held a two-day consultation on date 8-9 Oct, at Gandhi Peace foundation, New Delhi on the impact on Himalayas of the recent changes and its future and dismantle all the environment laws of the country organized by Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, SADED and Environics Trust and unanimously resolve ;-

 We the people and struggle groups from different parts of Himalayas challenge the Mr Modi led BJP Government’s move to rapidly dismantle all the environment laws of the country and reverse earlier decisions for enabling greater corporate takeover. As pointed out to the High Level Committee, which itself is a compromised effort, by Legal Initiatives for Forests and Environment, no project has ever been rejected or delayed purely because of environmental concerns.

This government and its predecessors have always violated the constitutional rights of the people over natural resources eg Article 39B, 21A and 19 (1). People dependent on natural resources have been struggling against the loot of resources.

 

At the same time, the first 100 days of the Modi Government are being celebrated for having allegedly introduced professionalism and efficiency to the bureaucracy and Ministers and streamlining decision making. The process is being touted as a model framework for policy formulation and economic preparedness, at the same time legitimizing the mainstream and media propaganda around the resolve to commit the nation to a path of becoming an (self-destructive) economic superpower. Yet, what has been witnessed in reality and notwithstanding the rhetoric, is the systematic dilution, amendment and/or abolition of the jurisprudential, constitutional, fundamental rights based, internationally recognized instruments of environmental and community protection built into the country’s laws, rules, regulations and legal system. Some of the most glaring instances of these have been:

 

  • Reducing the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) by 50%.
  • 240 projects cleared by the Ministry within 3 months a time period that simply cannot be adequate to undertake proper environmental impact studies, public hearings at local sites, and other mandated procedures
  • Delinking forest clearance from the green signal that is given by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), to projects around tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries. Previously forest clearance could only be given after the NBWL approval.
  • Reducing the need for NBWL approvals for projects within 10 km around protected areas to only 5 km.
  • Relaxing procedures under the Forest Conservation Act, which requires central approval of diversion of forestlands, for linear projects through forest areas, projects in forests and eco-sensitive areas along international borders and in “Naxal-affected” areas.
  • Doing away with the need for public hearings for coal mines of less than 16 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) capacity (from the earlier 8), and allowing onetime expansion of mines up to 6 mtpa if they are already of 20 mtpa size.
  • Exempting irrigation projects affecting less than 2,000 hectares from needing environmental clearance, and allowing state governments to clear those a ffecting 10,000 hectares.
  • The High Level Committee setup to ‘reform’ Environmental Laws has been given a mandate to overhaual all green laws and make them investor friendly, within a framework of 2 months.
  • Proposed amendments to the Green Tribunal and Land Acquisition Acts.
  • Systematic removal of independent voices from critical institutions of environmental and social governance

 

It is pertinent to note that the extent of this surreptitious clandestine dismantling of citizens communal, fundamental social, legal and institutional protection, has reached a stage where executive and legislative power in connivance with private and personal industry interests have ensured not just a renewed commitment to the flawed and unsustainable growth paradigm perpetuated by previous governments, but also accelerated the process towards resource robbery through citizen and communal/societal disenfranchisement. Environment laws are being grossly trespassed with the Central Government seems bent upon amending all those provisions which will not suit investors. There has been a large scale assault on the rules, laws and institutions meant protect the environment. Simultaneously central and state governments have moved against NGOs and civil society organizations raising social and environmental issues. The present BJP government is no different from any other mainstream leader or political party, in its unabashed devotion to the model of ‘globalized development’. Environment domestically is in a severe crisis with continuing appropriation and centralized control of land and resources, supported by creating growing material and monetary divisiveness amongst citizens to keep the focus away from the death of the planet. An analysis of the situation suggests that over 70% of India remains deprived of basic needs of one kind of the other, employment in the formal sector has hardly grown, undernourishment and malnourishment are at an all-time high, India ranks amongst the worst in social indicators of various kinds, inequalities between the rich and poor are growing significantly, and ecological unsustainability has already set in. The more we go for large-scale, technology intensive, capitalist investments, these problems can only get exacerbated.

 

Concurrently, this ambitious ‘growth-at-all-costs’ agenda has a frightening impact not only on the environment and ecosystem but also on democracy. Those resisting or opposing displacement, dispossession, and ecological damage are tolerated up to a point, after which movements and people as such are labeled ‘seditious’, ‘Maoists’ and ‘enemies of the State’!. Political Parties of all hues are unable to resist the temptation to hit back whether they are in Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat, Assam or Madhya Pradesh. Enormous powers have been centred in the prime minister’s office, such that ministers can hardly take decisions without the prime minister’s approval. Civil society is being targeted through Intelligence Bureau reports naming several groups as being responsible to slowing down India’s development, and being hand-in-glove with foreign interests.

 

The Himalaya is the tallest mountain on Earth and geologically, the youngest and fragile. It is characterized by high levels of inaccessibility, structural weakness and related ecological complexity. This mountain holds the largest amount of snow and ice on Earth, after the two poles, making it increasingly known by the name “The Third Pole”. The Himalaya is the producer of probably the largest amount of freshwater annually. Through the rivers originating in this mountain, it serves almost half of the world population with supplies of freshwater, the vital product of nature. The Himalayan region is very rich in biological and cultural diversity in particular, of plants with great medicinal values. The Himalaya has been the refuge of populations that have migrated from the plains at various periods, for various reasons, especially invasions from Central Asia. The valley of rivers originating in this mountain have been the cradle of many important civilizations in Asia, like the Indus Valley, Chinese, Indian, South-east Asian, etc. In the present context, such rivers provide the crucial water supplies to the densely populated areas of north China and north India, food baskets of these countries with very rapidly growing economies. The southern and eastern slopes of the Himalaya are the home of a very large number of people with great ethnic and cultural diversity. The demographic, cultural, environmental and climatic changes in the Himalayan region provide the backdrop for generating scenarios of future options that could be availed for socio-economic advancements in the region in the coming decades in this very important mountain region.

 

Naturally, given this alarming situation the Himalayan Eco-System and livelihoods of local communities are under threat due to the present day developmental model based on extraction and forfeiting the wealth of the communities. Neo-liberalization has aggravated the situation, with state and central governments intent to sell out all common resources to the corporate sector for endless exploitation without considering the consequences there after even when the Constitution has provided legal protection to the regions which come under Schedule V and VI, as well as special protection to J&K and North East. Legal provision under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and concessions traditionally enjoyed for using the forest through Community Forest Rights (CFR) by local communities are not followed and their ownership is usurped by the State and private developers.

The latest reported developments took place in the last parliament session, where Dr. Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank, Member-Parliament (MP) from Haridwar moved a Private Member Resolution regarding the creation of a new ministry for the development of Himalayan states on 11 July 2014 in the Lok Sabha which was discussed on the 11th and 18th of July 2014. 17 MPs participated in the debate and more than 40 MPs supported the resolution. While the preamble to the bill typically invoked citizen and environment protection, the actual debate was focused mainly on these points:-

  1. To identify backward areas of Himalayan States and ensure their overall development and conservation;
  2. To provide special financial package for development of backward areas particularly, border areas;
  3. To take effective measures to check cross border infiltration, particularly in the State of Uttarakhand;
  4. To recommend to the Union Ministries concerned, for laying of new roads and other infrastructural development projects and to strengthen Railway lines, establishment of hydro power projects, construction of economy by setting up of industries based on natural resources available in the Himalayan States and to prevent migration.

 

It was in this backdrop that a massive congregation and gathering of activists, peoples movements, academicians, grassroots workers and organizations, scientists, economists, leaders, politicians, citizens and socio-cultural institutions came together in New Delhi on the 08th and 09th of October, 2014 to conduct a Strategic Consultation on the Framework for Himalayan Development and Himalayan Futures. These serious discussions were made necessary, urgent and critical in the wake of the recent Parliamentary debate on creation of a Ministry for the Himalayas, and intent of the Government to focus its energies on imposing the existing growth paradigm in light of the deadly events taking place all across the Himalayas.

 

This strategic discussion has resulted in a pan-national congregation of all relevant and affected voices developing the basis for design, policy formation and oversight into the nature and processes of “development”. The meet strategized on the mechanisms to respond to the rapid dilution in environmental regulations which has taken long struggles to be incorporated through legislations and has unanimously created a forum for action and direct intervention under the banner of ‘Himalay Andolan’. The broadest possible social movement on solidarity and action on all Himalayan issues – all of which are inherently and intrinsically linked to protecting the environment – shall be setup.

 

Our Concerns and Expectations

 

 

In these existing circumstances we fear that the Himalayas will be totally destroyed through these models. We believe that any move affecting the environmental, social, communal, local and peoples aspirations must:

 

  1. Address the Himalayan Development Framework based on Himalayan geophysical specificity, environmental and livelihood issues through community conservation – which shall generate sustainable livelihoods by considering the stresses and niche of the region.
  2. Ensure that any bill on ‘Himalayan Development Framework’ shall be moved by the government instead of private bills based on the above mentioned aspects after detailed study, public consultation, addressing various sectors of Himalayas and all local socio-political groups and communities.
  3. After addressing the above concerns, the issue of institutional framework or implementation mechanism, such as an authority or ministry, may be discussed.

Also, at present there is a great gap and uncertainty about what is the path for the region that will be socially acceptable and not aggravate the natural environment. In order to make such transitions that would strengthen social harmony and not degrade the natural environment, a good amount of interactive knowledge exchange is needed among academicians, social activists, policy makers, government officials, etc. This has to be based on updated interdisciplinary knowledge, recorded and made available to such a large variety of stakeholders. The diversity of the region being very high, both in terms of natural environment and the people, the amount of background information and data needed for supporting the stakeholders with the necessary information and knowledge base, is also very large. However, a large gap exists in the case of suitable institutions outside the government and fully accessible to the common people. At the same time, a need was further felt and expressed for the this semi-political non-electoral movement to be supported by a well researched and experienced background of policy research and advocacy that provides the independent, scientific and academic basis for the obvious changes required for putting the engine of economic growth and nature in sync. It has been agreed to create a Think tank that shall provided for the reasoned and researched basis for future directional political action and targeted advocacy. To address the task of enriching the people communities and policy makers in the Himalayan region, an institution facility of high professional standing and wide contact with the Himalayan communities and policy makers, a Himalayan Information and Knowledge Exchange (HIKE) is planned to be established. HIKE shall operate upon the following Governing Principles on Policy and seek to propogate and institutionalize these in aspects of Himalayan Policy formulation.

Himalaya Niti

  1. The preamble to the Niti need to acknowledge the fact the economic and ecological changes are sweeping the mountains and are somewhat inevitable given the aspirational upswing of communities on one hand and dramatic climatic aberrations on the other. Mountains do not exist in isolation.
  2. It must further put on record that the response mechanism to the emerging crisis has been directionless and inadequate.  While the dominant politics is growth obsessed, the institutions in the mountains have not served the cause either.
  3. It is against these broad framework that the Niti has to situate itself and firmly argue that with ‘water’ and ‘energy’ being the two pivots around which the dark clouds of climate change will be negotiated and that these can only be sourced from the mountains on a sustainable basis.
  4. On the Himalayan scale the need is to re-create institutions that can offer credible information and solutions to the challenges at hand. As many as 24 research institutes across almost 12 mountain states need restructuring and repositioning to provide participatory models for sustainable growth and management.
  5. The 12 public funded universities ought to create new teaching and research framework – ‘montology’ need to be promoted as a ‘subject’ to develop a comprehensive understanding of the mountain systems. (Montology was adopted as a term during 2002 Year of the Mountains but never developed as a subject).
  6. The Niti need to come clean on whether or how will it look at the payment for ecosystem services  (projected as a solution within the market-driven capitalist economy) as a concept to both promote ecological conservation and create new economic opportunities for mountain communities.
  7. Niti ought to look at social and ecological challenges from an economic perspective embedded in an institutional architecture.
  8. We will resist rapidly dismantling all the environment laws of the country and ensuring reversal of these so called policy based changes which is blatantly helping the corporate through investment melas and concessions and allowing them to exploit the natural resources and livelihoods of the communities.

 

 

Guman Singh

Himalaya Niti Abhiyan

Village Khundan PO. Banjar, Kullu, HP

Email. gumanhna@gmail.com, Ph. 9418277220

 

 

 

हिमालय के लिए लघु ही सुंदर है

Published in Divya Himachal on Oct 6th 2014

( कुलभूषण उपमन्यु लेखक, हिमालय नीति अभियान के अध्यक्ष हैं )हिमालय में ग्रामीण विकास का ऐसा मॉडल खड़ा करना राष्ट्र की प्राथमिकता होनी चाहिए, जिससे पर्यावरण मित्र कुटीर व लघु उद्योगों के माध्यम से यहां के गांव उत्पादन के हब बन सकें। यहां आवागमन व्यवस्था, ऊर्जा और पर्यटन के मेगा मॉडल छोड़कर अन्य विकल्प तलाशने होंगे…आर्थिक विकास को गति प्रदान करने को लेकर चहुं ओर नई सरकार के आने के बाद उत्साह का माहौल है। प्रधानमंत्री की जापान व अमरीका यात्रा और चीन के राष्ट्राध्यक्ष की भारत यात्रा से यह स्पष्ट होने लगा है कि आर्थिक सुस्ती का दौर समाप्त हो रहा है। प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी विदेशी निवेश आकर्षित करने के लिए जरूरी बदलाव लाने की तैयारी कर रहे हैं। उनकी बातों पर दुनिया के नेता विश्वास भी कर रहे हैं। भूमि अधिग्रहण कानून और श्रम कानूनों को कुछ नरम करने की उम्मीद की जा रही है। रेड टेप के बजाय रेड कारपेट की बातें हो रही हैं। प्रतिस्पर्धापूर्ण विश्व में जहां देश को अपनी सुरक्षा व्यवस्था दृढ़ करने, बेरोजगारी से निपटने, गरीबी, भूख, अशिक्षा, स्वास्थ्य सुविधाओं के अभाव जैसी चुनौतियों का सामना करना है, तो आर्थिक विकास के लिए कड़ी मेहनत और सही नीतियां बनानी ही होंगी। इसके साथ यह भी ध्यान रखना होगा कि आर्थिक विकास का लाभ ज्यादा गरीब और जरूरतमंद लोगों तक भी समान रूप से पहुंच सके। इसके बराबर ही जरूरी बात यह भी है कि यह विकास टिकाऊ भी हो। टिकाऊ विकास हमेशा पर्यावरण मित्र विकास ही हो सकता है। संतोष की बात यह है कि मोदी पर्यावरण मित्र विकास की अहमियत समझ कर संतुलित विकास की बात कर रहे हैं। भारत के लिए हिमालय के बराबर पर्यावरण की दृष्टि से संवेदनशील कोई क्षेत्र नहीं, जो पूरे गंगा और सिंध के मैदान के जलवायु, बाढ़-सूखे, उपजाऊपन व जलापूर्ति का भी निर्णय करता है। इसलिए मोदी जिस जीरो इफेक्ट (पर्यावरण पर) विकास की बात कर रहे हैं, उसकी सबसे ज्यादा जरूरत हिमालय क्षेत्र में है। जिस तरह देश को तेज विकास की जरूरत है, उसमें हिमालय की पर्यावरण चिंताएं जल्दबाजी में दब न जाएं। हिमालय के लिए ‘आजीविका आधारित पर्यावरण संरक्षण’ और ‘पर्यावरण संरक्षण आधारित विकास’ सूत्र वाक्य होना चाहिए। हमें देखना पड़ेगा कि हिमालय में अंधाधुंध पर्यावरण विध्वंसक उद्योगों पर अंकुश कैसे लगाना है और पर्यावरण मित्र उद्योगों को कैसे फैलाना है। राष्ट्र को उत्पादन का हब बनाने का अर्थ है गांवों को भी उत्पादन की केंद्रीय भूमिका में लाना। तभी शहरों की ओर पलायन रुकेगा और शहर दम घोंटू स्थिति से बच सकेंगे। हिमालय में ग्रामीण विकास का ऐसा मॉडल खड़ा करना राष्ट्र की प्राथमिकता होनी चाहिए, जिससे पर्यावरण मित्र कुटीर व लघु उद्योगों के माध्यम से यहां के गांव उत्पादन के हब बन सकें। यहां आवागमन व्यवस्था, ऊर्जा और पर्यटन के मेगा मॉडल छोड़कर विकल्प तलाशने होंगे। सड़क निर्माण में ‘कट एंड फिल’ तकनीक को शत-प्रतिशत अपनाना होगा। बड़े पैमाने पर मानव यात्रा योग्य रज्जू मार्गों, मोनो रेल जैसे विकल्पों पर काम करना होगा। सौर ऊर्जा और हाइड्रो काइनेटिक ऊर्जा पर काम करना होगा, जिसमें बहती नदी पर बिना बांध या डाइवर्जन बनाए बिजली बन सकती है। अपने देश में हो रही छोटी-छोटी खोजों को ध्यान से समझ कर परिष्कृत करना होगा। मध्य प्रदेश के बुंदनी ब्लॉक के खांडाबड़ गांव की एक छात्रा ने पानी से हाइड्रोजन अलग करके उससे एक लीटर पानी से 150 किलोमीटर बाइक चलाने के मॉडल का प्रदर्शन किया। यह देश के लिए बहुत बड़ी और क्रांतिकारी तकनीकी बदलाव की खबर होनी चाहिए थी। यदि इस तकनीक का सरकारी शोध संस्थानों में परिष्कार उस छात्रा के सहयोग से किया जाए तो ऊर्जा क्षेत्र में खनिज तेल आधारित, कोयला और जलविद्युत आधारित व्यवस्थाओं में क्रांतिकारी परिवर्तन आ जाएगा। यह शून्य प्रदूषण तकनीक होगी। इसी तरह मेगा पर्यटन योजनाओं के स्थान पर लघु और सूक्ष्म या कुटीर पर्यटन को बढ़ाकर हम छोटे आदमी की आय में योगदान करेंगे। हिमालय में इसके लिए धार्मिक, सांस्कृतिक, साहसिक, स्वास्थ्य पर्यटन आदि अनेक संभावनाएं हैं। यह निहायत जरूरी है कि हम उत्पादन-विकास के इस नए माहौल में पहले हिमालय के लिए उपयुक्त विकास मॉडल तय कर लें, फिर हिमालय की नवविकास यात्रा की शुरुआत करें। कृषि, पशुपालन, बागबानी हमारे जीवनयापन की रीढ़ हैं। इनसे संबंधित लघु व कुटीर उद्योगों को बढ़ावा देकर इन प्राथमिक उत्पादन की गतिविधियों को लाभकारी बनाने और विस्तार करने के प्रयास होने चाहिए। हर क्षेत्र की उत्पादक गतिविधि में विकल्पों की तलाश और इनोवेशन को हिमालय में पर्यावरण मित्र विकास का वाहक बनाना होगा।

October 6th, 2014

http://www.divyahimachal.com/himachal-articles/peoples-opinion/हिमालय-के-लिए-लघु-ही-सुंदर/

Debate on the issue of creation of new Ministry for the development of Himalayan States

Dear all

I have tried to summaries the debate of Parliament on Himalayan issue.Pl correct language and add to comments and additional information on this issue. Write on alternate vision of development of Himalayan region attached discussion doc.
Guman Singh
National Coordinator
Himalaya Niti Abhiyan

Brief on Lok Sabha debate on the issue of  creation of new Ministry
for the development of Himalayan States.

Dr. Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank (Haridwar)
Dr. Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank MP from Haridwar moved a private member resolution regarding the creation of new ministry for the development of Himalayan states on dated 11 July 2014 in Lok Sabha and was discussed on 11  and 18 July 2014. In favour of the move Seventeen MPs participated in the debate and more than 40 MPs supported the resolution.
Dr. Nishank in his resolution said that due to strategic geographic
condition natural calamities and disasters takes place in the region
which causes lose of life and property. Hence urged independent
Central ministry for the region considering the socoi-economic
backwardness of the region, particularly Utrakhand.

He focused on four main issues:
1.      Identification of backward areas in Himalayan states and protection
and holistic development.
2.      Special financial package for the development of backward areas
particularly bordering areas.
3.      Effective measures shall be taken to control cross boarder
infiltration particularly in Utrakhand.
4.      Recommend concerned central ministries for laying new railway lines, establishment of Hydro electric Projects, construction of roads, infrastructural development projects; establish industries
based on Himalayan resources for providing economic strength so that migration be checked.

He also referred SZ kasim committee report and says that the
conclusion of study was to form a Himalayan development authority
under the chairmanship of PM and separate ministry be formed with
three ministerial berth.

Next main highlights of his speech-
Difficult geographical conditions causes disasters ; so separate
ministry different policy is needed to tackle the situation.
it is boarding area hence is strategically very important.

Himalaya is water tower of Asia but water discharge is decreasing due to glaciar melt. He stressed for the conservation and renewal of
Himalaya. It also provides forest produces.
Banpanchayts in Utrakhand protect forest and care like their child.
What they are not getting their rights. FCA 1980 has lessen the rights and further compelled people to migrate. Hence people are becoming enemy of forest instead of protector. So we need a separate policy for Himalaya.
Himalaya is capital of spiritualism. World first university was in
Utrakhand known as Badrish Vishwavidyalya under chancellorship of Ved Beas. Sanskrit took birth here which is the origin of all languages. He talk about rivers and  Ganga particularly known for it sanctity and demanded its protection and renewal.

He talked about niche of the region saying that Himachal and Kashmir produces quality apple, miraculous flower Brahmkamal and many amassing flowers grows here. Himalaya is There are many mines of Gold, copper, and  mica sulfur, magnesium, thorium.

He said that issue of formation of trans Himalayan development
authority was discussed in 2004 but why process is stalled.

He in last para said that Himalaya youth stand in first row to
defended boarder by sacrificing their lives for the nation.

Himalaya is first class of environment in our country, so I request for
formation of a ministry for these 11 states which will frame policies
to to protect tradition and culture and enhances the development in
the region.

HON. CHAIRPERSON (SHRI ARJUN CHARAN SETHI):  Motion moved:
“Having regard to the strategic geographical condition as well as
location of the Himalayan States, which causes landslides, cloudburst, earthquakes, hailstorms and other natural calamities every year resulting in huge loss of lives and property and taking into account the socio-economic backwardness of these States, particularly the State of Uttarakhand, this House urges upon the Government to form an independent Union Ministry for Himalayan States, which shall be responsible for the overall and speedy development of these States and
in particular perform the following functions–
(i) to identify backward areas of Himalayan States and ensure their
overall development and conservation;
(ii) to provide special financial package for development of backward
areas particularly, border areas;
(iii) to take effective measures to check cross border infiltration,
particularly in the State of Uttarakhand; and
(iv) to recommend to the Union Ministries concerned for laying of new Railway lines, establishment of hydro power projects, construction of roads and other infrastructural development projects and to strengthen economy by setting up of industries based on natural resources available in the Himalayan States to prevent migration.”

Other speaker ( Brief Note of speeches)
Prof.Saugat rai (DamDam)
Commented that if ministry may formed then Nishak ji may get place in to it. I shall call Himalaya area instead of Himalayan state because Darjling also fall in to this region. He commented on the term used “strategic geographical condition”

Raised the issue of tectonic plates and earth quakes in the region and stressed to consider this and a proper study on flood plans and
tectonic plates be under taken so that it may be established that how much construction shall be allowed. Other wise Himalaya will be danger and we are waiting for a disaster to happen.

De-forestation has taken place. Instead of referring Baba Ram Dev in Resolution speech who have nothing to do with preservation of Himalaya and have just started selling Ayurvedic medicines from Haridwar ashram.

Prof. Saugat  referred the contribution of Sunder lal Bahuguna and
Chipko Andolan in this regard.

He suggested that ministry of Himalayan affairs shall be formed
instead of ministry of Himalayan state development which shall account every thing -geological needs, environment needs, water needs and power needs to make a holistic plan for Himalaya.

Himalaya can be biggest source of Hydro electric power in the world. We have one dam in Tehri and one in Himachal but hundreds of such mini hydro projects can be built. Himalaya will be ideal for modern industries such as computer and electronics.

He stressed on the need of infrastructure and other facilities. I
support resolution but drop Hindutva and Ram Dev. lets come to gather-Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and christian and make a Deva-atama Himalaya cell.

Perm Das Rai (Sikkim)
He supported the motion and talked about environmental issue in
general. Expansion of railway and eco tourim in a sustainable way
considering environmental condition will be good.
Ninong Iring (Arunachal)
If Nishak ji had been moved this bill as an official bill from
government which might have been a big development for Himalayan people, even thou we support this move.

Arunachal have capacity of generating 55000 MW Hydro Electric Power, development in this sector is not taking place because of poor transport infrastructure. We have petroleum, coal but extraction is difficult because of this. Transport facility is priority such as rail, road and airways. There are tourism and religious tourism potentialities in the region.
Jagdambika Pal(Baghpat)
supported the move of forming ministry pointing out  three issue 1.
coordination of holistic fast development, 2. implementation and
monitoring of central plans, 3. lessen the impact of natural
calamities.

Raised issue of global  warming and glacier melt and its impacts,
possibility of earth quake, cloud burst and water sources are drying
up. One lakh MW HEP can be generated form Himalayan rivers but  could not explored in a proper way. We can generate energy and utilize natural resources of Himalaya benefiting people of hole nation.

Bhatruhari Mahtab (Cuttack)
All states are already getting special category status and what better financial package would be there.
I would like to repeat a point for not only drawing the attention of
the House but also to put it across the Government, that is, he had
addressed a Press Conference held in State Party office where Major General (Retd.) Khanduri had said that the State Governments should sensitize masses about the pros and cons of eco-sensitive zone before implementing any development programme.  The Army officer-turned-politician also demanded from the Government to install hi-tech and latest equipment for weather forecast.

The Himalayas need an agenda for development and environment.  I
would quote only five points for elucidating my point of view.  The
Himalayan States must build a viable and sustainable forest-based
economy.  Can they use forests for development? Can they value
eco-system services of forests so that protection is valued?
I would say that the strategy for water development must balance the opportunity for energy and threat to livelihood particularly in the age of changing climate and hydrology.  The need for energy in remote villages must be secured first before exporting to regions outside.

There is a need to promote local organic agriculture and its produce
as a specialty high value premium produce of a fragile ecology.
There is a need to use ecosystem-based tourism for development but with safeguards and local benefits

Prahad Singh Patel (Damoh)
Himalaya is not only barrier but protector of National security,
water, forest and biodiversity.farming session. deforestation is
taking place and glacier are residing.

Lactic cattle’s in the region are on the verge of elimination because
of less farm land four month of farming session. Himalayan people
-referring Kashmir are living without impacting  nature not consuming petrol and energy, they live in mountains using physical labour. They must get carbon credit but are being punished in-spite of award.

Climate change is impacting life’s of people so not only ministry be
established but to find solutions to all problems in holistic way.

Women does 90% farm work in Himalaya so they needs special attention.

Mullappally Ramchandaran (vadakara)
A holistic approach is required for the protection of environment and ecology of Himalayas. Our reckless land-use pattern and merciless killing of trees have caused great damage to the ecosystem of the Himalayas.

Himalayan regions often witness flash floods, cloudbursts and
avalanches. The Uttarakhand deluge last year has opened our eyes, and it made us realize how fragile the Himalayan region is. Any hazard to environment and ecology will definitely endanger the whole northern region, and probably the existence of this subcontinent. Experts say that one of the reasons for flash floods in the region is soil erosion following the reckless felling of trees. We may recall the Chipko movement launched by Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna who waged a relentless battle to protect the forests of Himalayas.

The flora and fauna of Himalayas are famous from time immemorial.
Going in for large-scale industries will ruin the ecosystem of the
Himalayas. The weather and climatic conditions of Himalayas are more suitable for electronic industries, watches, computers etc.

The inhabitants along the Himalaya region are to be sensitized about the fragile and yet bountiful Himalayas.

A separate Ministry would definitely be helpful in protecting the
ecology and developing the region by putting rich resources to the
best use.

The mover of the Resolution, Dr. Pokhriyal wants to identify the backward areas of Himalayan States, and ensure their overall development and conservation. Here, my considered view is that sustainable development is possible only through conservation of the ecology of the Himalayas.

The mover of the Resolution is also seeking for providing special
financial package for the development of backward areas, particularly, the border areas. My suggestion is that the issue of backwardness must be addressed by taking a holistic view on the matter.

The suggestion made by the mover of the Resolution for establishing
hydro-electric power projects is to be assessed by way of a thorough
scientific study.

It is a fact that the perennial rivers of the Himalayas are a great
source of huge volume of water. The question arises, how best it can
be harnessed without harming the eco-system.

Anurag Thakur (Hamirpur)
Independent India Himachal got 44 Kmt railway line where as British built railway from Pathakot to Joginder Nager and Kalka to Shimla.

We give birth to many war hero’s in army but are not getting additional qouta in recruitment in Army. We are first carbon neutral  state, polythene free, surplus energy producing state.

People of Himachal were displaced by Bhakhara and pong Dam, are not settled till date but Punjab, Hariyana and other states are enjoying benefits.

We cater one crore thirty lakh tourist in a year but road condition is very bad.
Mountain states faces cloud burst, land slide, earth quake, hailstorms which is common feature.

Development cost is double, majority of land is forest land and it is
tough to get forest clearance and NOC for the development projects.

We must be provided eco system payments for so.

Vincent H Pala (Shillong)
We need financial package.

The other thing that I wish to say is that we should provide more for
the infrastructure. Whoever has presented the Budget, be it the
Railway Budget or the General Budget, he always talks about giving 10 per cent to Northeast. They always keep 10 per cent for the
north-east.  Why do you want to keep only 10 per cent for the
north-east?  For roads, we should have 20 to 30 per cent.  A lot of
money is required.

Adhir Ranjan Chaudhri (BAHARAMPUR)
Sir, the Region is known as a ‘water tower of the earth’.
Approximately, 10 to 20 per cent of the area is covered by glaciers
while 30 to 40 per cent remains under seasonal snow cover.  Despite
the vast water resources (1,200,000 million metre cubic annual flow of the Himalayan rivers) trends such as diminishing regulatory effects of glaciers, streams and rivers are gradually occurring in the Region.

This Region has a total geographical area of about 5,30,795 square
kilometres inhabited by nearly four crore people, representing 16.16 per cent of the total area and nearly four per cent of the total
population of our country.  The literacy rate of the Indian Himalayan
Region is about 67 per cent.  It is good that it is marginally higher
than the national average of 65.4 recorded in the 2001 census.
Its forest display phenomenal biodiversity that is used to meet
diverse needs of the people.    Sir, 65 per cent of the geographical
area is under forest representing one-third of the total forest cover,
and 46 per cent of the very good forest cover in the country.
Thirteen peaks surpassing 7,000 metres in elevation plays a strategic role in safeguarding the entire northern boundary of our country.

The Himalayas with its vast green cover acts as ‘sink’ also for
carbon di-oxide.  In the age of global warming, the word ‘sink’,
carbon sequestrations have become a very familiar name.  The Himalayas with its vast green cover acts as ‘sink’ for carbon di-oxide.
Estimates of annual carbon sequestration by the forests of western and north-eastern Himalayas are computed to 6.49 Mt, that values to 843 million US dollars.  This is one of the important ecosystem services being performed by the Himalayan forests.

The people of the Indian Himalayan Region are still the victim of
poverty and misery.  Their livelihood basically depends upon the
natural resources, forestry, livestock, etc. The continually growing
population depend upon finite resources.  We know that the resources could always be termed as ‘finite’ but the demand has been growing exponentially over the years because population has been growing.

Naturally, in commensurate with the growth of population, demands are also rising but the resources are finite.  So, what is the way-out?
The way-out is that we have to innovate, we have to modernize the
Himalayan farming; we have to make productivity of the Himalayan
farming happen; and furthermore rich biological and cultural resources in this Region are under-developed.  Present trends of environmental health suggest that existing interventions are unsustainable.

Sir, it is very much witnessed that the development in the Himalayan
Range has become a nemesis for the common people because the
development has not been made in a sustainable manner.  As a result, we had witnesses the horrific incidents of Uttrakhand episode. Still, the horror has been haunting our memory. That is why we ought to be very much careful and cautious.

In the year 2011, we had witnessed the severe earthquake occurred in Sikkim. Himalayan Range is known to be very fragile and vulnerable.

That is why Himalayan Range needs some sorts of specifications in all its activities. Therefore, a dedicated agency for the entire Indian
Himalayan Range is a pre-requisite.  In consultation with all the
Himalayan States, the Government should come forward with a holistic approach for the development of entire Himalayan Region.
Sir, the inherent fragility of the mountains as well as the increased
vulnerability of the Himalaya to human-induced environmental impacts make people live in the shadow of fears of natural hazards.

Accelerated soil erosion and increased silting of water bodies, drying up of springs, replacement and disappearance of species and increased ratio of energy expended in fodder, fuel collection and agricultural activity that increase drudgery of the womenfolk, are some of the tell-tale symptoms of environmental ill-health.

Sir, nature does not brook any kind of unceremonious infringement
upon it.  In the name of civilization, we have destroyed the pristine
environment of great Himalayas, as a result of which we have been
inflicted by the fury of Himalayas, which culminated in the
devastation and destruction of lives and properties.

Sir, the Uttrakhand episode should be treated as a red signal for any
future development in the entire Himalayan Region. In this regard, a
Task Force was already constituted   to have a long-term policy on the Indian Himalayan Region.

That Task Force had recommended  that the balance between natural resources exploitation and conservation  should tilt in favour of the latter. Zones must be identified for appropriate activities such as zones of snow, Alpine, Sub-Alpine areas and sacred landscapes to be protected at any cost. All natural water zones must be strictly
protected.  Forest zones should be conserved and augmented for
environmental services and biodiversity values.

Government reply by Dr. Rajender Singh State Minster GoI
No doubts  mountain areas have special subjects, special problems
which are very peculiar. There is stress of resources, calamities
usually comes and issue of transport is also there.

The Government is committed to address the issues related to the
sustainable development of the Himalayan States and this is a
statement being made on the Floor of the House Himalaya is reach treasure of biodiversity, cultural diversity and ethnic diversity.

The National Mission of Sustaining Himalayan Eco-system has been
launched under the National Action Plan for Climate Change. The focus of mission is on sustenance of Himalayan eco-system, which includes glaciers, biodiversity and traditional knowledge societies.

The mission also focuses on rapid generation of capacities, including
human and institutional activities between forces of nature and
actions of mankind.

A dedicated Mountain Division has also been established to contribute to the sustainable and migrated development of Himalayan region through integrated policies and programmes.

Finance Minister has provided 100 Crores for setting up of National
Center for Himalayan studies in this budget.

All the 11 Himalayan States, which include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Jharkhand, have been accorded special category status by the National Development Council mainly for four reasons – hilly and difficult terrain, low population density, strategic location and non-viable nature of finances.

This is an important aspect which is to be brought to the notice of
the hon. Members that these 11 Himalayan States, which have been
accorded special category status, get a number of benefits from the
Central Plan Assistance which is more as compared to the general
category states. That in many of the Centrally sponsored schemes, the requirement of State’s share for these States is at much lower level compared to the other States. For the balanced development of the border areas and to look after the specific problems of the border area people there is a plan of  Border Area Development Plan, BADP.

Therefore, keeping in view the special characteristics of the North
Eastern States and majority of the Himalayan States, there is a
provision of earmarking of funds of 10 per cent of the several Central Ministries, which already exists.

Himalayan States are on the highest priority of the Government. The
Government is committed to the sustainable development of the
Himalayan States. At the same time, I must state before the hon.
Members that for the time being the Government has no proposal for creation of a new Ministry to exclusively deal with matters relating to the development of the Himalayan States, and doing so may not be viable for the time being. I will request the hon. Member to kindly withdraw the Resolution. Thank you.

Dr. Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank (Haridwar)
Seventeen members expressed their view on the subject and justified need for this ministry. Minister has accepted the fact and I hope in near future that this ministry will come in to existence. With
these word i withdraw my resolution.

Comments on Lok Sabha debate on the issue of  creation of new Ministry for the development of Himalayan States.

On behalf of Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, I thanks Dr Nishank and  all
parliamentarians who participated in the debate but four points for
debate raised by him are not reflecting the actual sustainability
issue, aspiration and need of the Himalayan region and people.

2.      Focus of these points and debate of some of the MPs was to
stressing on seek more funds/finances for development and construction new railways, roads, airways, Hydro Projects, industries and maximum extraction and exploiting Himalayan natural resources.

3.      Conservation and sustainability was discussed by some of the PMs but livelihood issue was not much seriously addressed whereas issue of employment and migration was hinted.

4.      Many of presenter stressed on Development of better infrastructure for Tourism and enhancing transportation facilities for extraction of minerals and development of hydro projects.

5.      Sprite of  SZ Kasim report was not reflected but was just reffed
to justify the formation of ministry which may benefit some of the
aspirants for the lucrative birth.

6.      Reply of minister is status co, incomplete and conventional stand of GoI.

7.      I think this incomplete, e rational and investment focused
development aspiration will harm Himalaya and its people and will not do fair with down stream region. This approach will further deterrent the environment and will further enhance disaster, deforestation, flash flood, cloud burst, land slid and erosion. Mega infrastructure projects , Dams, mining, construction of mega Hydro projects and tunneling will enhance gravity of disasters and its impact. Seismological  activity may enhance and earth quack and be more disastrous.

My Suggestion on this debate
1.      Resolution shall firstly address Himalayan development framework based on considering Himalayan specificity, environmental and livelihoods issues in the light of consevation through livelihood and sustainability of nature considering the stress and niche of the region.

2.      Resolution or bill for Himalayan development framework shall be moved by the government after detail study, public consultation and addressing various sectors of Himalayan specificity.

3.      After addressing the above concerns the issue of institutional
framework such as authority or ministry may be discussed.

These are my first hand reaction and is first draft of content. I
request to you all to contribute in to the debate and enrich with your
contribution.
I have tried to present the debate of MPs in right sense and spirit in
this brief and feels sorry if I presented and interpreted the content
of debate in wrong sense.

Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayas

Government to woo global chains Hotels in Himachal Pradesh

A proven formula to destroy local business and make locals to sell their lands to these big corporates, finally either to be thrown out completely or work their entire life as laborers in these corporates.

Simple and very obvious nexus so easy to understand if we want to.

Corporates -> bribe bureaucrats -> to mislead/convince/bribe politicians -> to implement policies in favor of corporates -> Make locals suffer endlessly however the world wouldn’t even know -> as these rich nexus can influence/control media too -> So majority of so called educated people, who live and react according to the superficial info they process everyday, think and blindly support the agendas of these corporates and completely ignores the reality at grassroots.

This is what has happened elsewhere and now will happen in GHNP too.. our fight is to protect the locals from such people with vested interests.

Now that, GHNP is declared as WHS, they will aim to bring in such huge players in that area… just wait and watch!!!! Or take a stand against this nexus

TOI Article
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Chandigarh/Government-to-woo-global-chains-to-set-up-hotels-in-Himachal-Pradesh/articleshow/37421164.cms

Local communities got some relief by UNESCO, yet Miles to go

Himalaya Niti Abhiyan

Village khundan PO. Banjar, Kullu HP-India

email: himalayanitiabhiyan@gmail.com, Ph. 9418277220

Date:24 June, 2014

State party revised its proposal under continuous endeavor by Himalaya Niti Abhiyan(HNA) and local CBOs – A significant victory for locals and people struggling for their cultural and traditional rights to be recognized and restored

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 17.36.10

On the eve of 23rd June 2014, Great Himalayan National Park was declared as World Heritage Site at Doha with certain conditions. Just 12 minutes were spent by UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) to discuss GHNP case, which shows the triviality to discuss about the local communities concerns who are fighting and agitating against the GHNP since 1996 and the nomination process of GHNP as World Heritage Site (WHS) since last two years. This also shows the Indian delegation non seriousness on the issue of community bona-fide livelihood along with cultural and religious rights in GHNP.

GHNP was created in 2001, and thousands of families were displaced from their cultural rights, traditional livelihood base and forest land and forest rights. The communities are still fighting for the rights and promise made in the 1999 award and during the declaration of GHNP by the authorities, which are yet to fulfilled. During the declaration of the GHNP the forest department made a commitment to give the alternate pastures for grazing, alternate forests for enjoying forest rights and provide alternate livelihood base which is still not be fulfilled. Community feels cheated and are apprehend that this new status of WHS may further alienate them from their forest and forest rights.

The process declaration of GHNP as UNESCO WHS was started in 2012, without prior information, consultation with host community and informing Gram Sabhas. Dept of Forest, has tried its best to keep the voices of traditional rights holders at bay, and has misled everyone ( HP State Govt, Indian Govt, its people) by presenting a single sided story, especially to ICUN and UNESCO.

Just a week back, it seemed this single sided story, told by few people with vested interests, will eventually win over the local community protests and prayers. Everybody feared, the history is about to repeat itself after 15 years and the local community is again going to be deprived of their cultural, traditional livelihood and forest rights which they had been practicing since ancient time. However, at last moment, a major relief came in for the locals, when the State party took its proposal back. This success is attributed to persistent and dedicated efforts by Himalaya Niti Abhiyan ( HNA) and local community based organizations (CBOs).

HNA kept on regularly protesting and appraising, all concerned parties, including UNESCO WHC, WHS delegations of many countries, IUCN ( advisory body to UNESCO), till the last moment. A very important report was openly published and shared with UNESCO WHC and other concerned parties, by HNA on 18th of June 2014, which listed 26 major concerns of the locals again the State party’s WHS proposal to convert GHNP as a Natural WHS. Majority of the concerns were related to cultural and traditional rights of the locals excised in Sainj WLS and Tirthan WLS which the State party had earlier proposed to transfer as per Wildlife act 1972.

It was the under the continuous push by HNA, that the State party took its proposal back after discussion with IUCN, and agreed not to purse to transfer the protection status from two wildlife sanctuaries, i.e. Sainj and Tirthan WLS.

Tarun Sridhar, Principal Secretary (Forest) said villagers will continue to enjoy their traditional rights. “People residing in the area will continue to be an integral part of the natural heritage whose protection now will be the responsibility of the global community after the bestowing of the UNESCO world heritage site,” he stated.

This is a major and significant victory for the local community and people/organizations associated with HNA, who could make the changes in the favour of the thousands of forest resources dependent families.

With this decision however, the struggle doesn’t end here. Everyone, including the forest officials, HP govt officials, have to be made aware of FRA 2006, and proper implementation of this ACT needs to be ensured. Miles and miles to go before the historic injustice done to the cultural & traditional rights of other forest dwellers , is duly recognized and restored.

References:

  • IUCN statement on transfer of rights / protection status on GHNP:

“In the revised statement the State party had indicated its intention to work through the established legal rights processes to effect transfer of two wildlife sanctuaries, to NP status. However in discussions with IUCN, the state party has indicated they may not now purse this transfer of protection status.

ICUN considers, that protection status afford by wildlife sanctuaries , meets the reqs of the operation guidelines, and understand that WHS will not change legal status and legal processes to address rights issues.”

  • Open letter to UNESECO, a detailed 28 pages report about concerns of locals, send to UNESCO WHC, can be found at HNA blog

Guman Singh

National Coordinator

Mail to IUCN: Requesting you to reconsider your decision on GHNP

Dear IUCN team,

We understand that GHNP case will be discussed on 20th / 21st June 2014, for WHS inscription. We also understand that IUCN has given its green signal to inscribe WHS status to GHNP, however, we would like to emphasize on the point that, State party has NOT been very transparent and inclusive in its approach, and kept the larger community which is going to be affected by this decision, out of consultation process thereby not aligning to the true spirits of UNESCO and its associated bodies.

We would again, like to share our major concerns (the entire list of concerns has already been shared and can be found out at http://goo.gl/JhNlsE), with a hope that our request can be considered before taking any decision.

1) Larger community, i.e. the main stakeholders, including Devta Association, various village bodies around Park, other CBOs, etc were not consulted during the evaluation process and the decision has been made based on the inputs given by State party only. We have given substantial proofs to present a TRUE picture and if necessary further proofs can be provided to support our claims. [ Please refer to Concern#
20, 24, 25, 26, in the detailed letter, proofs attached]

We have uploaded all the resolutions passed by the main stakeholders on our blog site for easy reference / public view, including strong opposition lodged by Devta Associations, Village bodies, and other CBOs. If required, we would be happy to translate them for your reference.

2) WHC has been presented with single sided story not based on truth (facts can be easily twisted by people in power). A major concern is the lack of transparency in WHS evaluation process, both at State Govt level and IUCN level. We are concerned about the manner in which the State Forest Department has gone about facilitating the evaluation process, keeping it mostly under-wraps, showing what they wanted to show to State party, IUCN etc , safe guarding their own interests, which unfortunately is highly unethical and misleading.

Regarding the organizations, which are supporting the Forest Dept, its known that they have vested interests in the area.

  • BTCA is an NGO which is on the payrolls of Forest Dept and it represents only a small portion of the community.

  • Sunshine Himalayas is not an NGO but a tour business focused on GHNP treks, whose owners have very close/business relationship with people who wrote the WHS application.

  • Jaguriti is not a local NGO and has never worked in this area, however it is working on medicinal herbs related products in Lug valley and hence does not represent voice of local people.

  • Envi-saviour is an NGO which collaborated with the American author, was created to fight a legal case against the hydel project, which was disturbing the river flow in front of American author home. This NGO is not working with the local community as such and hence can’t be taken as representative of the local community.

3) We would also like to reiterate the fact that, the larger community, is deeply concerned about WHS inscription. In the name of Natural Heritage, our Cultural Heritage, our sacred Cultural Landscape, our Spiritual Environment, our Traditional Beliefs, our Religious Sentiments, our freedom to exercise our religious rights, are directly being threatened, which is also against the UNESCO MAB / Sacred Sites Guidelines. And that is the reason, they have been protesting openly against WHS, as they know (IUCN evaluation report) that inclusion of Sainj WLS and Tirthan WLS in the Park, will further curtail their traditional and cultural rights. [Point# 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,
in the detailed letter, along with proofs]

Same stories have been reported, in other places where National Parks have been created and the indigenous people have been uprooted.

4) To rectify the historic injustice done to the indigenous people of India since colonial times, a 40 year long India wide movement, resulted in central government approving a national law known as Forest Rights Act 2006, which mandates each state government to recognize the rights and restore them according to the rules and regulations of the same act. However, we are concerned that, the State Forest Dept, is misleading everyone again, by stating that this law of land is not applicable to our state. This law supersedes, all previous Forest related laws, especially Forest Conservation Act, Indian Forest Act ,etc. and as a matter of fact, the law can impede any officer /party which tries to work against this act. [Point # 21 in the detailed letter,
with proof attached]

And to answer worries of conservationists, FRA also ensures that the local community through village level Forest Right Committee, is empowered and made responsible, to take conserve the biodiversity of their forests, something which Forest Departments in India have failed to do so due to lack of manpower and will.

5) For their vested interests, State Govt delineated a portion of GHNP to make way for Parvati Hydel Power Project. The valley’s pristine nature has been literally raped by multi-stage hydro electricity projects and has also disturbed the local community and wildlife since its inception. It’s a long project which is taking years to finish and one can very well imagine the amount of discomfort and pain it has caused to the local community, especially our Devta community.

[Point # 12 in the letter proof attached]

We would request you to kindly reconsider your decision and reevaluate it by having first hand interaction with local communities without any intermediate interference from political or administrative hierarchy.

Hoping that our voice will be heard and justice will not be denied to the innocent mountain communities.

With lots of hopes and prayers

Sandeep Minhnas,

Himalaya Niti Abhiyan

Place: Banjar, District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India

Web: http://www.himnitiabhiyan.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HimalayaNitiAbhiyan

Blog: https://himnitiabhiyan.wordpress.com

Mail to IUCN: Requesting you to reconsider your decision on GHNP

Date: 19th June, 2014

Place: Banjar, District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India

Dear IUCN team,

We understand that GHNP case will be discussed on 20th / 21st June 2014, for WHS inscription. We also understand that IUCN has given its green signal to inscribe WHS status to GHNP, however, we would like to emphasize on the point that, State party has NOT been very transparent and inclusive in its approach, and kept  the larger community which is going to be affected by this decision, out of consultation process thereby not aligning to the true spirits of UNESCO and its associated bodies.

We would again, like to share our major concerns (the entire list of concerns has already been shared and can be found out at http://goo.gl/JhNlsE), with a hope that our request can be considered before taking any decision.

1) Larger community, i.e. the main stakeholders, including Devta Association, various village bodies around Park, other CBOs, etc were not consulted during the evaluation process and the decision has been made based on the inputs given by State party only. We have given substantial proofs to present a TRUE picture and if necessary further proofs can be provided to support our claims. [ Please refer to Concern# 20, 24, 25, 26, in the detailed letter, proofs attached]

We have uploaded all the resolutions passed by the main stakeholders on our blog site for easy reference / public view, including strong opposition lodged by Devta Associations, Village bodies, and other CBOs. If required, we would be happy to translate them for your reference.

2) WHC has been presented with single sided story not based on truth (facts can be easily twisted by people in power). A major concern is the lack of transparency in WHS evaluation process, both at State Govt level and IUCN level. We are concerned about the manner in which the State Forest Department has gone about facilitating the evaluation process, keeping it mostly under-wraps, showing what they wanted to show to State party, IUCN etc , safe guarding their own interests, which unfortunately is highly unethical and misleading.

Regarding the organizations, which are supporting the Forest Dept, its known that they have vested interests in the area.  

  • BTCA is an NGO which is on the payrolls of Forest Dept and it represents only a small portion of the community.

  • Sunshine Himalayas is not an NGO but a tour business focused on GHNP treks, whose owners have very close/business relationship with people who wrote the WHS application.

  • Jaguriti is not a local NGO and has never worked in this area, however it is working on medicinal herbs related products in Lug valley and hence does not represent voice of local people.

  • Envi-saviour is an NGO which collaborated with the American author, was created to fight a legal case against the hydel project, which was disturbing the river flow in front of American author home. This NGO is not working with the local community as such and hence can’t be taken as representative of the local community.

3) We would also like to reiterate the fact that, the larger community, is deeply concerned about WHS inscription. In the name of Natural Heritage, our Cultural Heritage, our sacred Cultural Landscape,  our Spiritual Environment, our Traditional Beliefs, our Religious Sentiments, our freedom to exercise our religious rights,  are directly being threatened, which is also against the UNESCO MAB / Sacred Sites Guidelines. And that is the reason, they have been protesting openly against WHS, as they know (IUCN evaluation report)  that inclusion of Sainj WLS and Tirthan WLS in the Park, will further curtail their traditional and cultural rights.  [Point# 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, in the detailed letter, along with proofs]

Same stories have been reported, in other places where National Parks have been created and the indigenous people have been uprooted.

4) To rectify the historic injustice done to the indigenous people of India since colonial times, a 40 year long India wide movement, resulted in central government approving a national law known as Forest Rights Act 2006, which mandates each state government to recognize the rights and restore them according to the rules and regulations of the same act. However, we are concerned that, the State Forest Dept, is misleading everyone again, by stating that this law of land is not applicable to our state. This law supersedes, all previous Forest related laws, especially Forest Conservation Act, Indian Forest Act ,etc. and as a matter of fact, the law can impede any officer /party which tries to work against this act.   [Point # 21 in the detailed letter, with proof attached]

And to answer worries of conservationists, FRA also ensures that the local community through village level Forest Right Committee,  is empowered and made responsible, to take conserve the biodiversity of their forests, something which Forest Departments in India have failed to do so due to lack of manpower and will.

5) For their vested interests, State Govt delineated a portion of GHNP to make way for Parvati Hydel Power Project. The valley’s pristine nature has been literally raped by multi-stage hydro electricity projects and has also disturbed the local community and wildlife since its inception. It’s a long project which is taking years to finish and one can very well imagine the amount of discomfort and pain it has caused to the local community, especially our Devta community.

[Point # 12 in the letter proof attached]

We would request you to kindly reconsider your decision and reevaluate it by having first hand interaction with local communities without any intermediate interference from political or administrative hierarchy.

Hoping that our voice will be heard and justice will not be denied to the innocent mountain communities.

With lots of hopes and prayers

Sandeep Minhnas,

Himalaya Niti Abhiyan

 

Web: http://www.himnitiabhiyan.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HimalayaNitiAbhiyan

Blog: https://himnitiabhiyan.wordpress.com

HNA’s Urgent Communication on GHNP to UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Date: 14th June 2014

Place: Banjar, District Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India

Dear UNESCO World Heritage Committee

We are writing to you, as an urgent communication, to raise our concerns and oppositions against the proposed Natural Heritage Site status to Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) area of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, India.

It is disheartening and rather shocking to know that a land where native communities have since time immemorial been living in harmony with environment are now being showcased as hubs with ‘eco-tourism’ potential. In the name of ‘natural heritage’ the local communities are at the verge of losing all their traditional rights which they have on their homeland since centuries.

What’s even more alarming is that the people who are pushing for Natural Heritage Site status are strongly connected to a lobby with vested interests.

We are not sure if you are aware of it, but the concept of national parks, with local native communities ousted from their own land , is more of a colonial and western concept and not in sync with socio-cultural-environmental dynamics in an ancient land like ours.

Since ages, the communities of mountain people in India have a deep rooted religious-spiritual-emotional bonding with their environment and have literally worshipped their forests and kept bio-diversity protected.

It should be noted that the environmental degradation never started when local communities had full control over their land. The environmental downfall started with suppressive colonialism taking control out of their hands; and when after two centuries the country gained independence, the government and administration that prevailed has not set good examples as far as ecological conservation in its true sense is concerned.

Forest department in India has been guilty of corruption and negligence in many ways such as harming the natural biodiversity by engaging in reckless monoculture in areas under its control, conniving with politicians,  timber mafia and drug mafia

The NGOs pushing for Natural Heritage status, have some vested interests or deep seated hidden commercial motives.

Considering the strong social and cultural ties that the locals  with their environment, they would be the last one to harm the pristine and sacred nature.  GHNP’s case seems more fit for ‘Cultural Heritage’ than a converted ‘Natural Heritage’site with traditional inhabitants pushed out in the name of ‘conservation’

Please find below an elaborate list of some grave concerns and fears that haunt the native inhabitants

We would request you to come personally and have a first hand interaction with local communities without any intermediate interference from political or administrative hierarchy.

Hoping that our voice will be heard and environmental justice will not be denied to the innocent mountain communities.

With lots of hopes and prayers

Sandeep Minhnas,

Himalayan Niti Abhiyan

web: http://www.himnitiabhiyan.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HimalayaNitiAbhiyan

Blog: https://himnitiabhiyan.wordpress.com

 

 

Please find enclosed the following documents

  1. Letter with detailed concerns of the local community, collected through various consultations
  2. Supplementary info in support of the concerns
  3. Very Important evidence: Video documentary that show the plight of our Devta(Mountain gods) culture and resistance against Parkhttp://vimeo.com/56653842
  4. Supplementary info from UNESCO and its related advisory bodies, on how Cultural heritage has been ignored since ages and now need to be looked into.
  5. List of citations, references used in the document.
  6. All the resolutions passed by local civic bodies, who are opposing GHNP as a Natural WHS ( will be  uploaded to our blog at https://himnitiabhiyan.wordpress.com, as they are already very heavy images)

Please refer to the following 28 page detailed LETTER to UNESCO WHC, on why its important to see the other side of the story too.  Why its important to see GHNP as a Cultural Heritage / Sacred Heritage Site, instead of purely Natural Heritage Site

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 20.19.37OPEN_LETTER_TO_UNESCO_WHC

Letter to UNESCO – Against GHNP as WHS – 8th June 2014

Great Himalayan National Park –A proposed natural site for WHS

$      The UNESCO seems fails to defend its Main Slogan – Peace of men and Woman – Becoming part and supporter of illegal and unethical move to declare GHNP as WHS

  • Thousands of rights holders waiting for settlement of forest rights under –Forest Right Act 2006

$      Illegal move by the forest department to include Tirthan and Sainj sanctuaries in GHNP

o   No rights settlements or consultation with the locals for the inclusion – Violating the WPA ( wild life protection act)

ü  Researches shows – Illegal move and exclusion of rights holders

$      Illegal and unethical move by state government, forest department and UNESCO to announce GHNP as WHS

 

Great Himalayan National Park – The Great Himalayan national Park (GHNP) initially constituted in 1984, GHNP was formally declared a National Park in 1999, covering an area of 754.4 sq. In 1994 two major changes were made in land use around the national park. A buffer zone of 5 Km from park’s western boundary, covering 265.6 sq. Kms and including 2300 households in 160 villages, was delineated as an Ecozone. Most of the population (about 15000 – 16000 people) in the Ecozone are poor and highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. But the actual area claims under the jurisdiction of the GHNP is 1171sq. Km (National Park, Sancturies and Ecozone) by the GHNP authority. Means the authority included the Sainj (90sq. Kms) and Tirthan (65 sq. Kms) wildlife sanctuaries in the GHNP under the GHNP regime in 2010.

The settlement of rights in the GHNP as per the “Award” commitments are still unaddressed and the rights in the Sainj and Tirtahn sanctuaries are unheard by the authority. Above this in 2010, an area of 710 sq. Km of Parvati river catchment contiguous to northern boundary of GHNP was initially notified as the Khirganga

The GHNP authority continuously claiming that the rights of the community in the core zone of the GHNP have been settles as per the Anderson settlement (Anderson settlement 1876- 1897) is impractical and misleading. According to Anderson settlement there were only 349 right holders in the GHNP area. Taking the cognizance of Anderson settlement government purchased the rights of only 349 right holder and given the compensation of about Rs. 1,55,00,000 and thousands of families left behind those actually were practising the rights in the area at local level and hundreds of other herders those were using the GHNP pastures for summer grazing from different districts. Dr. Ashwini Chhatre of Duke University also cited the same question in his paper “Territorialisation, Resistance and the Mirage of Permanent Boundaries Forests of the Western Himalayas, 1876-1897”.

Beside the monetary compensation the Government also made a commitment in the award to provide alternative livelihood and alternative forest’s and pasture land to the community which is till date is pending, or no move have been taken by the government.

Sharma, 1987; Singh, S. et al. 1990 in a also mentioned that many people living both inside and outside the Ecodevelopment Project Area claims traditional rights to use the Park’s resources. In fact, local people claim rights over the demarcated protected forests which make up more than 75% of GHNP. These rights are complex, ill-defined and are currently subject only to token regulation or management. Until these rights are resolved, the National Park cannot be officially gazetted.

Even the GHNP administration agrees with the study that; 35,000 sheep and goats graze in the Park during the summer months (Mehta et al. 1993). About 2,500 people collect herbs (August-October) and mushrooms (April-June) each year (Gaston & Garson 1992). Some neighbouring communities depend heavily on the Park during the summer months.

Current move by GHNP administration: The Forest department is now proposing and trying to award the National Park as “World Heritage Property” form the IUCN and IUCN team visited the park to initiate the process of announcing GHNP as “World Heritage Property”. The people of the area are little aware about this move of the forest department and government of Himachal Pradesh. Some of the people have raised their voice and also submitted the memorandum to the IUCN Director against this move but at larger scale many of the communities are unaware about the process. To realize the status of world heritage site the forest department now also initiated the process of forming Bio Sphere Reserve which means including thousands of hectare area in the GHNP; resulting the thousands of families’ forest rights amputation.

National Park, which seems to a move to include this area in the GHNP in near future. Thus the park authority continuously is increasing the GHNP area without appropriate public consultation and settlement of rights of the communities. The villagers are unaware about these inclusions and expansion of the area comes under the jurisdiction of GHNP.

Himalaya Niti Abhiyan – A people network of 60 organizations in the state of Himachal Pradesh – Advocating for ecological sustainability in Himalayan Region.

 

An apex body of many local civic bodies in Himachal Pradesh