The headlines in the various newspapers that scores of former MLAs and state ministers have not provided relevant information about their movable and immovable properties to the state government so far and that several former officers and important people have not yet vacated their government accommodation and not even paid rent arrears, are disturbing. Obviously, the one -time responsible decision -makers are setting a very bad example. After all, general public expects upright behaviour from the dignified people. It is well- know how the state government is always short of funds to launch fresh developmental activities for the wellbeing of mountain folk, who had painfully agitated for decades for the creation of a separate state. Their agitation was sought to be built on the premises that the mountain folk of the mountainous region of the then western Uttar Pradesh were not receiving a better deal in the undivided Uttar Pradesh. During the agitation the mountain folk sacrificed a great deal in terms of life and property. In the light of this fact, how any kind of official callousness can be justified, how these erring officers and politicians are going to justify their conduct, many tend to ask.
Another subject that has been exercising the minds of thinking people pertains to the foreign visits undertaken by bureaucrats and ministers from time to time ever since the new state came into existence. Some foreign visits are lined up even to this day.
During the past nineteen years, scores of bureaucrats and politicians have gone abroad on some pretext or other. Some officers and bureaucrats have gone overseas more than once and with their team of officers. Even though their visits are costing a huge amount to the state exchequer, yet this practice continues unabated. Interestingly, what surprises many is the non availability of relevant information as to how these visits have eventually benefitted the state and its people so far. It seems there has been no sincere effort to document a comprehensive information on that count.
This latest news that Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) in Dehradun is investigating the possibility of converting edible cooking oil into diesel is quite interesting. A demonstration to this effect was scheduled to be held by the IIP scientists in Kolkata on November 8 during the India international science festival there. The result is yet to be known. The commercial cost of this bio- fuel is expected to be very low. In fact, it may be recalled here that IIP has been engaged in producing biodiesel from a plant called jatropha for several years now. Encouraged by this experimentation at IIP, many farmers began growing this plant commercially in many parts of the country, some deploying Israel’s plantation technology for the faster growth of the plant. Years ago, at one time, it was said that the fuel produced by the IIP had been successfully tested in two -stroke engines and even in some Maharashtra Roadways buses. But years after this announcement, commercial production of the bio- diesel is nowhere in the pipeline. Therefore, this latest news of conversion of edible oil into diesel by IIP naturally raises eyebrows. How come IIP is now focusing on conversion of cooking oil into diesel when its jatropha bio-diesel project remains incomplete years after its initiation.
The musky question
Quite interesting indeed. The news that state government is making the elusive musk deer as the mascot of the Khel Mahakumbh raises a key question: whether this tiny deer is still in existence in the rugged high altitude regions of the state. The musk deer had entered the endangered list of the wild life found in Uttrakhand’s mountains long ago. It may be recalled here that some years ago efforts were made by the state forest department to preserve this highly endangered specie by keeping a few of them in an enclosure at Khanchulakhark in Chamoli district and at Askot musk deer sanctuary in Pithoragarh district. It was said later at some time that just few were able to survive. Much due to high altitude forest fires and poachers, this deer specie has almost gone into extinction. Poachers have reportedly been after this deer specie with the tenacity of a hound. The temptation was to extract costly musk from their bellies. Musk commands a very high price in the international market. Whether the musk deer is still surviving in Uttrakhand’s mountains is a question to ponder over.
Uttarakhand is one among ten thickly- forested Himalayan states which are silently rendering a kind of eco-service to the nation and is demanding green bonus as compensation for its service. Uttrakhand forests are holding a substantial amount carbon stock. Both the Union Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and chairman of 15th Finance Commission NK Singh had agreed during the Himalayan conclave held at Mussoorie some months back that the Himalayan states are definitely playing their own role in preserving nation’s eco- system. They agreed that the Himalayan states’ interests need to be looked after by the Centre. They also stressed that the sub-Himalayan forests Uttarakhand are home to rich biodiversity. The water bodies of the state such as lakes, rivers and glaciers continue to be a rich source of water for the Indo- Gangetic plains. Therefore, it’s high time the Union government compensated the nascent state adequately by granting green bonus at the earliest.
(The writer is a veteran journalist based in Dehradun)
Saturday, 30 November 2019 | PNS | Dehradun
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