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Gujarat reefs: Healing a self-inflicted wound

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By Gaurav Sharma

The longest coastline of India, the Gujarat sea coast, is home to one of the richest and finest flora and fauna. Multifarious water birds, endangered marsh crocodiles roam the dense mangrove forests along with the last remaining population of endemic Wild Ass.

Photo credit: travelguideforindia.com
Photo credit: travelguideforindia.com

An exclusive habitation for the Asiatic  lions (Gir Forest National Park), Gujarat accounts for the largest grassland area in India (Banni), and the largest water bird sanctuary in the country (Nalsarovar).

The Gujarat coral reef is known for “branching corals” in keeping with the characteristic  bifurcation of corals into secondary branches. Owing to indiscriminate and  widespread human activity, the reefs, particularly the genera Acropora and Montipora, were undergoing a diminution in both their diversity and reach.

The extensive coral bleaching recorded in 1997-1998 further took a toll on the fragile coral population of Gujarat. (It is estimated that about 30-40 per cent coral bleaching was reported in the Gulf of Kutch in northern Gujarat)

Finding itself in a quagmire, the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) embarked on what is perhaps the largest coral reef restoration project in the world. After almost two years of persistent work, the exploration and research organization has been able to successfully restore the corals back to their original status.

Photo credit: niobioinformatics.in
Photo credit: niobioinformatics.in

“The corals transplanted from Gulf of Mannar are growing well on different islands in Kutch. Corals in the inter-tidal area are bleached due to heavy sedimentation and high temperature. Those transplanted in the sub-tidal area are fine and the regeneration is good”, Shyamal Tikadar, Kutch National Park director told TOI.

Along with the proactive steps taken by ZSI, plans have been afoot to establish the country’s first “Coral garden” at Mithapur coastal region of Dwarka in Gujarat. The project has been jump-started by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in collaboration with Tata Chemicals Limited, while the funding has been made available by the Gujarat forest department.

The extensive restoration missions have been apparently started with an eye to ‘regenerate corals’ drowning in the highly sedimented area of Kutch.

Though the mainstream media is all gung-ho about the success of the transformational undertaking of ZSI, this only paints the complete picture with half truths. The reality is that the coral reef development has widespread ramifications.

First of all, it can be easily contended that the increased conservation activism is more attributable to increasing the state tourism revenue rather than an imminent need for conserving coral reefs.

The need for conservation projects itself arose from the crude and rapid scale of industrial activities being conducted by corporate honchos. Tata Chemicals Limited which has taken itself on board to preserve the coral biodiversity, in fact, runs a soda-and-ash at Mithapur in Jamnagar district of Gujarat while the Dalmiya group operates Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Limited (GHCL) unit in Junagadh district’s, Sutrapada taluka.

Both the companies have faced serious allegations of polluting the ecology of the region, with GHCL violating sea lease conditions for almost 20 years. The High Court has however turned a blind eye to the transgressions.

In 2001, more than one lakh mangrove trees died due to release of brine water from the pipeline of Tata Chemicals Limited, the first case to be recorded for the epic scale of the catastrophe.

Then in 2003, the Marine National Park was shut down for a week after the pipelines broke, leaking chemicals into the park and affected about 1500 mangrove trees. Strangely, the company was let off the hooks by the forest department, for some inexplicable reason.

In the chemical and fertiliser sector, companies transfer and transport phosphoric acid and liquid ammonia from ships to production units via pipelines. Both the substances are toxic and therefore, a potential threat to marine life.

Ditto for the cement industry in Gujarat. Dredging and mining activity lead to settlement of suspended particles on coral reefs, particles which increase the mortality rate of the coral reef system

Sewage discharge, ship-breaking, mangrove cutting, thermal power plants, increased port development and maritime activity are other factors which have further exacerbated the rapacious exploitation and degradation of Gujarat coral reefs.

Oil spilling incidents are also not unheard of in the region. In 2004, a Panama-registered oil tanker crashed into a cargo ship in the Gulf of Kutch, causing a major oil spill which threatened to alter marine life.

Furthermore, owing to its close proximity to oil exporting Middle East countries, the Gulf of Kutch region has been vigorously developed as an import hub. Corporate giants such as Reliance and Essay have established vast network pipelines, releasing harmful effluents into the sea shore.

Photo credit: www.justmeans.com
Photo credit: www.justmeans.com

Gujarat is renowned for mass production of salt (almost 70 percent of the salt obtained in India). During salt production, a highly concentrated form of sea water is obtained called Bittern. As the mushrooming industrial units such as Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL) discharge the bittern into seawater, the combination of the release along with the negative water balance of the Gulf escalated the soil salinity.

Apart from causing a threat to the marine life, human settlements in and around the region also face a livelihood threat. In 2005, farmers of Junagarh district made their salinity woes felt by registering a case with the Gujarat High Court.

“Saline water from the salt pans seeps out…and percolates to groundwater causing salination….this has adversely affected agricultural productivity…earlier, sugarcane, groundnut, wheat and even coconut groves were grown, now farmers have shifted to low-profit but salinity-tolerant rajko (a fodder crop) and bajra,” the three bench committee assigned by the High Court had noted.

While some farmers have shifted from large harvesting crops such to more salt resistant ones, other have chosen to vacate their land in light of the declining productivity. Meanwhile, the fishermen allege shortage of catch in the region.

“Earlier, we used to get fish 15 km from the coastline, now it has expanded to 45 kms. This is because of the virtual obliteration of Sea plant near the shores”, Suresh Bhai of the local fisher’s union told NewsGram.

All this is not to undermine the efforts of the ZSI in restoring coral reef growth in the region, but to merely point out that the need for such initiatives would have been obviated had such extensive human activity in the region not been allowed to assume epic proportions.

ZSI’s achievements are indeed laudable, but the whole state of play in the Gujarat coastline has been that of inflicting damage and then taking counter-measures to stem their abhorrent toxicity. In its chronic anxiety for fast tracking development, the concomitant counterpart of vigilance was ignored by the government.

The question worth pondering in this regard is – is it not utter foolishness to first create a problem and then shower praises on organizations hired to correct the fault lines? Why allow misery to breed, percolate and inhabit in the first instance?

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Hello Foodies ! You Can Spot These 8 Street Foods at Every Nook and Corner in India

Here is a list of delicious street food items, now available everywhere in India

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Delicious Street Food
Delicious Street Food in India. Wikimedia

Sep 02, 2017: Street foods in India is the new trend amongst foodies these days and are indeed delectable to savor. Previously, it was known that street food confined to a particular region. However, nowadays, a south Indian food can be found even in the north of the country and here is why you don’t need to go all the way to Assam to eat momos.

Many street food items have become quite popular throughout. Let’s have a look at these street food items.

Here is a list of delicious street food items, now available everywhere:

Vada Pao

Street Foods
Vada Pao in Delhi. Wikimedia

Vada Pao is the Indian style burger, quite famous in Maharastra. Fried potato dumplings are stuffed inside pao and are coupled with green chili and spicy chutney that add flavor to this Maharashtrian dish.

Chaat

Street Foods
Papri Chaat. Wikimedia

The sweet, tangy, and spicy taste of Aloo tikki, Gol Gappa, bhelpuri, Sevpuri, will tempt you. This is a mouth-watering street food from Uttar Pradesh. It adds extra taste to your buds when garnished with curd and chutney.

Momos

Street Foods
Cabbage Momos. Wikimedia

The white colored steamed snack of North East is getting popular amongst Indians these days. It makes an awesome combo when served with spicy red chutney and hot momos.

Also Read: “Regionality is What Sets Indian Food Apart” from the Cuisines Across the World, says MasterChef Australia Judge Gary Mehigan 

Poha Jalebi

Street Foods
Poha the staple breakfast of India, with Jalebi. Wikimedia

Sweet jalebis served with salty poha is a trademark street food of Madhya Pradesh. Now the combination is a hit amongst people of the country.

Idli Sambhar

Street Foods
Idli-Sambhar-Coconut chutney. Wikimedia

Idli Sambhar is the most popular street food of Tamil Nadu in India. It is a delicious combo of idli, sambhar and coconut chutney.

Chole Bhatura

Street Foods
Chole bhature. Wikimedia

Chole Bhature, a favorite dish of every Indian is chiefly a treat of Punjab.  It is served with green chilies, onions, and chutney.

Dhokla

Street Foods
Gujarati Dhokla (Khaman Dhokla). Wikimedia

The sweet-sour Dhoklas are a specialty of Gujarat state. It is a famous street food baked from the fermented batter of gram flour. This treat is also served with chutney and green chilies.

Pyaz ki Kachori

Street Foods
Rajasthani Pyaz ki Kachori. Wikimedia

Pyaz ki Kachori was originated in Jodhpur city of Rajasthan. The dish is now relished all over India. These crispy and flaky kachoris with onion masala, garnished with sweet tamarind chutney will throb your heart.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

 

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India Has the World’s Largest Ship Graveyard in Gujarat

From being the focal point of the world where ships were to be sent, Alang is left behind with scarcely any work

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Ship Graveyard
Ship Graveyard. Wikimedia

July 24, 2017: Ships have a life. Does it sound peculiar to you? After you get down from the wonderful journey you probably never think about the ship again, however, ships also have an existence cycle, similarly as we do. Alang in Gujarat has the biggest ship graveyard on the planet where voluminous tankers and luxury ships are rejected on the Alang shore front. Here, things are distinctive and it notices a greater amount of old things than newly composed ones.

A Ship graveyard is a place where ships are sent to be decomposed.

 

Ship graveyards are the ones that are made particularly for decomposition of the ship. Alang has a 10 km long coastline where ship breaking is done. The First ship was brought here in 1983 and from that point onwards 6,900 ships have been disassembled there.

Despite the fact that 60% of the world’s aggregate ship breaking is done in Alang, the place has seen lots of ups and down. From being the focal point of the world where ships were to be sent, it is left behind now with scarcely any work.

This recycling industry is valued at 6,000 crores. In the year 2010-2011, they had utilized 20,000 laborers and generated more than a lakh employments. The ships that once rode the high oceans ended up on the shores of Alang. With the passage of time, the oil-drenched shoreline looks infertile, with just a couple of ships dotting the skyline, their rusted anchors, and chains is an evidence of a shoreline that once cut down hulks.

Ships that once carried many vacationers to exquisite areas and carried voyages to far-flung ports are among the vessels from all the world that have wound up on Alang’s shores post the termination of working lives. They are scrapped for their steel which can be sold for use in development.

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Alang’s shoreline as a ship breaking yard benefitted from this labor-intensive exercise of crushing these vessels. Such work can be carried out in nations with cheap labor and lesser restrictions in terms of dealing with hazardous substances, for example, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Japan and the Gujarat government have held hands to redesign the current Alang ship breaking yard. This is a part of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, a venture between the Japanese and Gujarat government. The venture’s point is to make this shipyard the biggest International Maritime Organization-compliant recycling shipyard in the world.

– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

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These 4 Lesser Known Resorts in India are Perfect for a Vacation!

If you have chosen India to explore on this vacation, there are different yet awesome resorts for a different experience

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lesser known resorts
There are many unexplored destinations and resorts in India for a unique vacation. Wikimedia

July 23, 2017: India is a large country with unexplored places and destinations. While a great vacation means getting out of the country to explore abroad, there are definitely some great spots for your domestic vacation as well.

Here is a list of some lesser known resorts that are surely as good as a mainstream vacation scene.

1. Igloo, Manali:

lesser known resorts
The Igloo resort made in Kullu valley is an awesome experience to live in the cold weather. Wikimedia

Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, is a paradise in itself. It is a beautiful spot for explorers not only from the country but outside. Being at a good enough height, the chills are only natural for travelers. In the Kullu Valley, a resort in the form of an igloo can be experienced. Brought to you by Vikas Kumar and Tashi Dorje, this experience is a must have.

2. Cave Resort, Bangalore:

lesser known resorts
Guhantara resort, Bengaluru, is the first Cave themed resort in India. Wikimedia

The Guhantara resort is India’s first cave themed resort. The resort offers an underground leisure. There is also a special tunnel trekking. The serenity of the place has been a word of mouth advertisement. Another great thing about the resort is the lightings, which gives the place a surreal feeling.

3. The Treehouse Resort, Jaipur:

lesser known resorts
The treehouse resorts in Jaipur provide a peaceful and close to nature experience. Wikimedia

Jaipur’s Treehouse Resort is a peaceful destination. The visitors have a genuine close to nature experience. At the same time, the resort provides all leisure activities.

ALSO READ: These 6 Untouched and Unexplored Indian Villages Will Make Your Vacation Memorable!

4. Shaam-e-Sarhad, Gujarat:

lesser known resorts
Shaam-e-Sarhad is a village Resort, an initiative of Government of India and UNDP. Wikimedia

The Shaam-e-Sarhad is a Village Resort. It was established as a combined initiative of United Nations Development Program and the Government of India to promote rural tourism. The resort provides mud houses and eco tents for the visitors. The tour to Rann of Kachh from the resort is a notable mention.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

2 responses to “These 4 Lesser Known Resorts in India are Perfect for a Vacation!”

  1. The list of the resorts you have mentioned for spending vacations is amazing. As you mentioned about Manali, the resorts in form of an igloo can be experienced. I can also suggest you Sirmour Retreat- one of the best hotels in Nahan, Himachal Pradesh which provides delicious mouth watering food and also have a great bar with movie theater, garden gym, pool table, chess, caroms etc.

  2. Thank you for this post. The pictures you provided in your article are beautiful. Our country is one of the best tourist destinations and has beautiful hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Nahan, etc. Manali is one of my favourite destinations. I am from Delhi and last month I went for a Shimla trip with my friends and we took a 1 day stop at Nahan, a beautiful hill station close to Shimla. The Sirmour Retreat is the resort where I stayed in Nahan; I will recommend it to everyone.