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Himachal CM propagates LED use for conservation of energy

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

On the occasion of Himachal Day, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today launched a state-wide LED promotional programme for conserving energy.

He said three LED bulbs would be made available to each domestic consumer at subsidized rates by the government.

The consumers would have to pay Rs.10 per bulb per month for 15 months.

Talking about the welfare of casual workers, the chief minister said that all the part-time workers, on completion of eight years of service as on March 31, would be made daily wagers.

The government has also decided to cover all those daily-wage earners, part-time workers, anganwari workers and helpers and mid-day meal workers, who are not covered under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, under the Mukhya Mantri State Health Care Scheme to provide them basic and critical healthcare.

The chief minister bestowed ‘Himachal Gaurav Puraskar’ on renowned doctors — Raj Bahadur, who is now vice chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Health and Sciences in Bathinda in Punjab, and D.S. Rana, chairman of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.

The ‘Prerna Srot Samman’ was given to Himachali-origin Bollywood actress Kangna Ranaut, whose parents received it on her behalf.

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No More Monkeys Dangling in Himachal Pradesh Due to Lockdown

No monkey business in Himachal amid lockdown

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In the absence of adequate food in the populated areas of the state capital and other popular destinations when close to 8.6 billion people staying indoors following the COVID-19 clampdown, the monkeys are no more dangling there. Wikimedia Commons

BY VISHAL GULATI

For the monkeys, it’s no more business as usual in Himachal Pradesh tourist resorts, for now.

In the absence of adequate food in the populated areas of the state capital and other popular destinations when close to 8.6 billion people staying indoors following the COVID-19 clampdown, the monkeys are no more dangling there.

They have, it appears, made a tactical retreat into the woods, till their predecessors win the war against the pandemic.

Wildlife officials say without tourists on the streets in most of the resorts, monkeys entered to nearby forests for the natural vegetation to forge.

Local residents are stunned by how they moved to the outskirts of cities and towns on their own.

Old-timers say in Shimla that the city hasn’t been rid of monkeys for decades. It is time to grow natural food in their habitat when the coronavirus is defeated so they could not return to the ‘concrete’ jungle.

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Sandeep Rattan, Assistant Director with the Forest Department’s wildlife wing, has been monitoring three troupes of monkey in the Jakhu residential area of Shimla for quite some time.

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For the monkeys, it’s no more business as usual in Himachal Pradesh tourist resorts, for now. Wikimedia Commons

“With the imposition of the city lockdown, there is a shortage of foodstuff in human wastes,” Rattan told IANS.

With the closure of restaurants, shops and temples and no humans on the streets, the monkeys have moved to nearby villages and forest areas where they are feeding on natural vegetation, he said.

Now only some dominant ones remain in town, wildlife veterinary surgeon Rattan said.

“We got reprieve from the marauding monkeys after a long, long time. We are praying they should not come back with the lockdown getting over,” octogenarian Ramesh Sud said, while pointing towards an iron grill erected outside his home to prevent straying of monkeys.

As per the last census conducted in 2015, Himachal Pradesh has a population of 2.07 lakh monkeys.

Barring Lahaul-Spiti district and some pockets in Kinnaur district, the state is in the grip of monkey menace as they have caused crop losses worth hundreds of crores of rupees in recent years.

As the religious sentiments prevent the people from kill the monkeys, their population is multiplying and their menace has increased manifold in cities and villages.

Marauding monkeys, prowling in gangs on streets of Shimla, Kasauli, Chail, Manali and other places create panic among residents and tourists. They have been causing havoc by biting passersby and snatching food.

Pictures of monkeys drinking from abandoned coke bottles and carrying food wrappers up into the trees are common once.

Officials say on an average at least 50 monkey bite cases are being reported every month in the Rippon Hospital in Shimla alone.

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In Shimla’s localities like Jakhu, Tutikandi, Nabha, Phagli, Kaithu, Summer Hill, Tutu, Boileauganj, Chotta Shimla and Sanjauli, the residents have literally converted their houses into jails by erecting iron grills on the doors and windows to check the intrusion of monkeys.

Wildlife officials said over a decade-and-a-half ago monkeys were trapped from streets of Shimla and banished to the jungles — a technique to reduce their population.

But Rattan believes the translocation has not resolved the conflict rate, conversely such translocations shifted the problem to new areas instead of resolving the issue.

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Wildlife officials say without tourists on the streets in most of the resorts, monkeys entered to nearby forests for the natural vegetation to forge. Wikimedia Commons

Activists working for the cause of farmers have been demanding the monkeys should either be eliminated professionally by hiring hunters or lifting the ban on the export of monkey for bio-medical research to check their rising numbers.

The central government had banned the export of wild animals in 1978.

In written reply last month, Forest Minister Govind Thakur informed the assembly apart from monkey sterilization, the state has got the monkey declared as vermin in the most affected 91 tehsils and sub-tehsils of the state and within the Shimla Municipal Corporation.

He said for designing effective strategy of mitigating damage by monkey, the population estimation of monkey has been carried with the help of primate specialists from the Wildlife Institute of India and the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural Historyin December 2019 and the estimation report is under preparation.

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The habitat enrichment plantation scheme is being implemented across the state under which fruit bearing trees of different species are being planted in 10 adversely affected forests for providing natural food resource for the monkeys and other wild animals so that they may not come over to agricultural fields.

Also, the Shimla Municipal Corporation has been requested to adopt effective waste management practices to help managing the conflict as throwing of waste specially food items lead to increase in the commensalism in monkeys, the minister said.

Commensalism refers to increased dependence of monkeys on human food.

Also Read- Social Distancing and Lockdown are The Strongest Vaccine: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Himachal Pradesh has declared nine species of wild animals as crop damaging animals.

They are the rhesus monkey, wild boar, blue bull, porcupine, jackal, chittal, sambar, hare and the parrot. All of them are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. (IANS)

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Visit Himachal Pradesh to Bask in the Warmth of Mellow Sunshine!

Chandigarh's meteorological department said dense to very dense fog would likely to continue at a few places in Punjab and Haryana till Wednesday

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Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh is one of the lesser known travel destinations in india. Wikimedia Commons
Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh is one of the lesser known trekking destinations in India. Wikimedia Commons

The weather is ‘cosy’ these days in hills of Himachal Pradesh compared to the Northern plains where dense fog is screening out the sun.

The hilly state is receiving regular sunshines and for a longer duration.

The weather in picturesque tourist resorts of Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda, Kasauli, Chail, Dharamsala, Palampur and Manali is ‘warm’ and perfect for a break from the biting chill of the plains where the sun has largely been fogged out.

“What a mellow sunshine is in Shimla,” remarked Kriti Aggarwal, a tourist from Delhi.

She said it was a great relief from the prevailing fog that did not allow sun rays to penetrate over ground levels.

Her friend Kanika Gupta added: “For hours, we relaxing and basking under the sun. Even nights are cosy here compared to the plains.”

Manmohan Singh, director of Shimla’s meteorological department, told IANS on Monday that most of the hill destinations have a pleasant weather owing to long sunny days compared to the plains.

“The maximum temperature in the hills is two-three degrees below average but due to prevailing sunny days the temperature will see rise and will be normal in a day or two,” he said.

According to him, dry weather would largely prevail in the state till December 31, ruling out the possibility of snow and rain across the state.

Himachal, the most wanted place to visit for New Year
Himachal, the most wanted place to visit for New Year. Wikimedia Commons

The humidity level over 80 per cent causes fog. In the the hills it’s around 50 per cent currently, compared to 80 per cent in the hills.

In Shimla, located around 7,000 feet above sea level, the maximum temperature on Sunday was 13.8 degrees Celsius, while the minimum was 3.6 degrees on Monday.

The night temperature in Dharamsala was 2.6 degrees Celsius, whereas popular tourist resort Manali saw a low of minus three degrees.

At 14.3 degrees below freezing point, Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district was the coldest in the state. Kalpa, some 250 km from the state capital, saw a low of minus 2.9 degrees Celsius.

In Chandigarh, the maximum temperature was 0.6 degree Celsius less than Shimla’s on Sunday, with the minimum hovering around 9 degrees Celsius.

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The Met office in Chandigarh predicted foggy conditions to continue in the city till Wednesday.

The prevailing maximum temperature in Chandigarh is six to seven degrees below season’s average due cloudy and shallow fog.

Chandigarh’s meteorological department said dense to very dense fog would likely to continue at a few places in Punjab and Haryana till Wednesday. (IANS)

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Every Traveller Must Visit these Offbeat Destinations

Offbeat destinations for new year's getaway

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Every traveller will love visiting these travel destinations. Pixabay

This holiday season, treat the traveller inside you with offbeat destinations nestled in the lap of refreshing natural landscapes.

1. Ponmudi Hill Station, Kerala

Ponmudi offers so much to travelers who love to explore the winding paths and surely have a thing for long drives. Set in the Western Ghats of Kerala, it is a picturesque hill station that is surrounded by lush greenery and a sheen blanket of mist. Trekking is one of the most adventurous activities that one may wish to delve in, here.

The place has started getting traction in recent years, which has resulted in the creation of cottages and resorts in the hilly area. A hill so close to the city, Ponmudi hills makes it a perfect choice for travelers who look for small weekend getaways.

Those planning to visit Ponmudi, the time between November and March is highly recommendable.

West Bengal traveler
Sandakphu is the highest point of the Singalila Ridge where a traveller can enjoy the dazzling peaks of Everest and Kanchenjunga. Wikimedia Commons

2. Silent Valley National Park, Kerala

Another natural piece of wonder located in the godly lands of Kerala, Silent Valley National Park is the finest destination for every nature lover, ever existed. It offers the opportunity to be exposed to wild jungles and its wilderness enveloped by numerous adventurous activities.

Apart from the purest marvels of nature, this place offers rich history and grandeur and remains the largest tract of evergreen rain forests in the North-eastern corner of Palakkad district. The flow of river Kunthi that descends from the Nilgiri hills makes it a natural splendor and one may want to keep watching it, forever.

It is recommended to visit this park between December and April, as heavy rains from June till November makes it difficult to explore the beauty of this place.

3. Sandakphu, West Bengal

Situated at the peak of West Bengal, Sandakphu is the highest point of the Singalila Ridge where tourists can enjoy the dazzling peaks of Everest and Kanchenjunga as the first sunlight strikes the surface. River Teesta that flows through this place makes it a perfect destination for water-sport aficionados.

To enjoy all of these, one must trek around 8-10 km from Maneybhanjan. It will take around 12 hours to reach the finishing line. Although it sounds tiring, the activity will certainly make you feel refreshed when you finally reach the peak – the beautiful vantage point from where you can clearly view the natural wonders.

Best is to visit this place between October and January.

Himachal pradesh trekking traveler
If you’re a traveller seeking an adventurous trekking experience then you must visit Sar Pass in Himachal Pradesh. Pixabay

4. Jawai Hills, Rajasthan

Also known as the Leopard hills, Jawai is located in the Pali district of Rajasthan and is home to leopards and other wild animals such as chinkaras, jackals, hyenas, etc. It is also a place where you will find migratory birds aplenty. Apart from these, there is a Kalka Devi temple, where one can find the maximum leopards roaming around the caves and stairs.

Here one gets amazing options of Safari rides to relish the inner view of the wilderness and also peek into the lives of local people who live there. A wonderful place to find solitude, Jawai is a perfect destination for tourists who wish to chill and adventure, away from the hustle-bustle of the cities.

The best time to visit Jawai is between October and April to avoid humidity and enjoy chilly nights.

5. Sar Pass, Himachal Pradesh

When speaking of winter breaks, it is the thought of hill stations that first crosses our mind. One such hill station that meets all your trekking desires is Sar Pass. Perfectly nestled in the Pir Panjal mountain range, Sar Pass is completely surrounded by high-rise mountains, waterfalls, and lush green forest.

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Although very tough, it is still one of the best routes and longest treks (5-7 days) in Himachal Pradesh that offers great campsites with views never-seen-before. You can start the trek from Kasol, also known as Mini Switzerland, and relish the nature all across the way till you reach the zenith.

October is the best time to visit Sar Pass, but since it’s a winter trek, there is no harm in planning for the later months. (IANS)