WWF-India urges tourists traveling to the Himalayas to go green!

WWF- India’s Green Hiker campaign launched

New Delhi: In its efforts to encourage responsible tourism in the Himalayas, the World Wide Fund for Nature- India launched its Green Hiker Campaign today in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The campaign aims at raising awareness about the vulnerability of the Himalayan ecosystem, by encouraging tourists and tour operators to adopt responsible practices towards reducing the impact of tourism on this fragile ecosystem. The campaign stands on the positive, direct message of Nature leaves a mark on you, don’t leave one behind. The campaign corresponds with the tourist season in the Himalayas and links with the Incredible India initiative of the Ministry of Tourism.

WWF's Green Hiker Campaign launched in Delhi by Mr. Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism (3rd from left) - © Anil Cherukupalli/WWF-India

The launch saw the participation of various officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India in addition to many other organizations and individuals. Arjun Vajpai, the youngest Indian to conquer Mount Everest at the age of 16 was also present to lend his support for this campaign. He also shared the overwhelming experience of his recent expedition and the importance of being a responsible hiker.

Mr. Maninder Singh Kohli, veteran Himalayan hiker, presented a short account of his experiences in the Himalayas, the problems and possible solutions. A Green Hiker Animation Film targeting the tourists and service providers in the industry and encouraging them to watch their footprint was released and screened at the launch.

Mr. Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, while launching the campaign said, “…The Himalayas are the pride of our nation. The Ministry of Tourism is glad to support this campaign, since the conservation of the majestic Himalayan ecosystem is a common goal which we have to achieve together. It is important that we start now ….”

On the occasion, Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India said, “Irresponsible tourism is increasingly rendering the high altitude regions and its fragile wetlands vulnerable. Appropriate mechanisms need to be put in place so that tourism can carry on without negative consequences on this ecosystem. The impact of travel in the Himalayan region needs to be dealt with by the travelers themselves. They should be both responsible practitioners and delivery mechanisms of the conservation message. The Himalayas need our care and protection.”

From WWF-INDIA

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Buddhist tour connecting India, Nepal

Kathmandu: Nepal will soon launch a bus tour from Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, to different Indian cities having important Buddhist pilgrimages, to lure over a million tourists to the country during the Tourism Year 2011.

The Eco-tourism Buddhist Circuit pilgrimage tour will start from Lumbini in Western Nepal and take a round of Indian cities Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar before concluding at where it started, said Nepal Tourism Board chief Prachanda Man Shrestha.

The ten-day tour aims to promote Nepal’s tourism, which had suffered a lot during the decade-long insurgency, by luring Buddhist pilgrims from around the world, Shrestha said.

The pilgrims would get to see Buddhist stupas, chaityal, monasteries, mahaviharas, arts and architecture and religious literature from different parts of India and Nepal during the tour that would cost around 400 US dollar per person.

At the initiative of the Nepal Tourism Board, two 42-seater deluxe buses will be arranged as per the packaged tour programme that would start its trial run in November.

The regular bus service will start from January 2011 to coincide with the Nepal Tourism Year.

Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini some 2,554 years ago and he got enlightenment in Bodhgaya, preached his first disciple in Sarnath and died in Kushinagar of India.

Though Buddha was born in Nepal, the country has not received its proper share from the Buddhist pilgrimage tour due to lack of publicity and lack of connectivity, the minister claimed.

Through the packaged tour Nepal aims to get its share from around 300,000 Buddhist pilgrims who are currently visiting mainly Indian cities annually, Shrestha said.

From Zee News

Impact of climate change on India

Here are the main potential effects of climate change on a country, which is the world’s seventh largest in area and is home to 1.1 billion people, a sixth of humanity.

Reflection due to climate change in INDIA

Monsoon

Various studies show that surface air temperatures in India are going up at the rate of 0.4 degrees Celsius every 100 years, particularly during the post-monsoon and winter seasons. While mean winter temperatures could increase by as much as 3.2 degrees Celsius in the 2050s, summer temperatures could go up by 2.2 degrees Celsius in the 2050s, spurring climate variability.

Extreme temperatures and heat spells could alter patterns of monsoon rains, vital for India’s agriculture and water needs. Scientists warn that India will experience a decline in summer rainfall by 2050. The monsoon accounts for almost 70 percent of the country’s total annual rainfall. Winter rains are also predicted to fall by 10-20 percent. Higher temperatures also mean faster melting of Himalayan glaciers and as the melting season coincides with the monsoon season, any intensification of the monsoon is likely to contribute to flood disasters in the Himalayan catchment.

Agriculture

Agriculture will be adversely affected not only by an increase or decrease in the overall amounts of rainfall, but also by shifts in the timing of the rainfall. Higher temperatures reduce the total duration of a crop cycle, leading to a lower yield per unit area, especially for India’s wheat and paddy crops.

Soil erosion, increased numbers of pests and weeds brought by climate change will also affect agriculture in India. For instance, the amount of moisture in the soil will be affected by changes in factors such as rainfall, runoff and evaporation.

Rising seas

A 10-year study in and around the Bay of Bengal points to the sea rising 3.14 mm a year in the mangrove swamps of the Sunderbans delta against a global average of 2 mm, threatening the low-lying area which is home to about 4 million people.

A trend of sea level rise of 1 cm per decade has been recorded along the Indian coast. The major delta area of the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Indus rivers, which have large populations reliant on riverine resources, will be affected by changes in water regimes, salt water intrusions and land loss.

Health

Rise in temperature and change in humidity will adversely affect human health in India. Heat stress could result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and weaken immune systems. Increased temperatures can increase the range of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, particularly in regions where minimum temperatures currently limited the spread of such diseases.

(Sources: Greenpeace, UNDP, Centre for Science and Environment, ibnlive)

Plan to link Dudhwa Reserve with other forest areas

For the conservation of tigers, the state Forest department and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India) plan to connect the forest area of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve with the adjoining forest areas. At present, a survey is being conducted to assess the possibility of a corridor linking Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Kishanpur Sanctuary and Katerniaghat Wildlife Reserve.

The step is being taken to facilitate easy movement of the big cat from one forest area to another in order to avoid problems of inbreeding among the tiger population. “Though no such case has been reported yet, but we are conducting the survey as our long term goal is to prevent any such problems in the future,” said Harish Guleria, Landscape Coordinator of Terai Arc Landscape (WWF-India).

“We are assessing the feasibility of the creation of the corridors between Dudhwa and its adjoining forest areas. However, the survey work is yet to be completed,” said B K Patnaik, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest of Uttar Pradesh. The corridor area being assessed is the 11-km stretch from Sathiana to Palia range connecting Dudhwa Tiger Reserve to Kishanpur Sanctuary. Similarly, around 14 km of land area along Kaudiyala river in Mohana range — connecting Dudhwa and Katerniaghat Sanctuary — is also being surveyed.

“The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is not linked with nearby forest areas and this restricts the movement of animals. The survey, which will be completed in the next five months, will show whether the corridor will be feasible for the movement of the animals,” said Guleria.

Details like the present and earlier status of the area, nature of adjoining areas, land use pattern and animals movement between the areas will be taken into account.

From Indian Express

Hopes rise for monsoon revival

NEW DELHI: There could be some good development on the monsoon front soon. According to the India Meteorological Department, monsoon activity in the peninsular region, which had remained subdued for the past several days, could revive in the next two days.

IMD Director General Ajit Tyagi told journalists that there were ample indications that the monsoon flow could strengthen over the region and start advancing northwards from June 6.

The system could advance over coastal and south interior Karnataka and South Konkan and Goa region including Mumbai by June 10 or 11 and subsequently over more parts of Maharashtra and many parts of Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Gujarat, Orissa and adjoining East India during the week from June 11 to 17.

The positive turn of events is expected in the wake of the weakening of the cyclonic storm over the northern parts of the Arabian Sea and indications that the positive phase of the phenomenon called Madden-Julian Oscillation could increasingly become strong over the Indian Ocean during the next two weeks.

He refuted apprehensions that the cyclonic storm would have taken away the monsoon flow from India as it happened last year when cyclone Aila soon after the onset of the monsoon had led to a break of about one week in monsoon activity.

Noting that no two meteorological situations need be similar, he said that weather prediction models are clearly showing that a fresh strong surge of monsoon activity was well on its way. “There is no need for any worry,” he stressed.

“The cyclonic storm had, no doubt, disrupted the monsoon flow in the peninsular region over the past several days. That is past. It can’t have any adverse influence any more. On the contrary, the system could only have a beneficial impact for the country hereafter.”

Forecast models, he said, are indicating that parts of north and north-western region, including Delhi, could experience some good rainfall activity during June 6 to 8, as the system, which is increasingly weakening, re-curves north-eastwards and moves towards the Pakistan coast.

From THE HINDU

Campaign launched for responsible tourism in Himalayas

Seeking to encourage tour operators and tourists to adopt better practices for disposal of waste in the Himalayas and protect the fragile ecosystem, the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) Friday launched the Green Hiker campaign here.

‘Irresponsible tourism is increasingly rendering the high altitude regions and the fragile wetlands of the Himalayas vulnerable. The impact of travel in the Himalayan region needs to be dealt with by the travellers themselves,’ said Ravi Singh, secretary general and chief executive officer, WWF-India.

The campaign, which will cover the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh, aims to reach out to tour operators and tourists and encourage them to adopt responsible practices towards reducing the impact of tourism on the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas.

Thus, it has been timed with the peak tourist season in the Himalayas.

Maninder Singh Kohli, a veteran hiker, said: ‘In my last five years of trekking I have seen the situation in the Himalayas degrading constantly. Although tourists litter the place, the worst offenders are the pilgrims who just don’t care at all.’

Arjun Vajpai, 16, the youngest Indian to conquer Mount Everest, has also been roped in for the campaign. He said: ‘Climbers should be properly trained in waste disposal by the government. More importantly, the number of people climbing the peak should be curtailed.’

As part of the campaign, an animation film on responsible tourism will be screened in airports, hotels, coffee houses, book shops and restaurants. Posters, bookmarks and post cards will also be distributed.

Workshops will also be conducted for tour operators, Contact WWF-India.

From Sify

Bollywood at Indian Film Festival of London

Apart from earning itself 14 nominations at the IIFA awards and having already won eight technical ones, 3 Idiots is now being screened at the Indian Film Festival of London 2010, as a part of a retrospective of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s films.

The festival that kicks off on August 25 and ends on August 29, will close the event with a screening of 3 Idiots for charity, the proceeds of which will be donated to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

For a cause
3 Idiots is a special film, it has changed my own daughter’s outlook towards education, as she has taken up full time classical dancing now. To have a charity screening for UNICEF only echoes what the film is trying to say and we are really proud to be associated with such a noble cause,” Chopra says.

The other films lined up to be screened are An Encounter With Faces (1978), Parinda (1989), 1942: A Love Story (1994) and Eklavya: The Royal Guard (2007). While Chopra will also be presented an award for his contribution to cinema, each film will be followed by an audience interaction with him, where members of the British film world will learn more about Bollywood.

About the IFFL
The Indian Film Festival of London claims to be one of the major film festivals, which is dedicated to promoting cinema from the Indian subcontinent.

While several mainstream and art house products from Bollywood are promoted here, the festival soon plans on branching out into getting films from other Indian film industries as well. Steps to rope in movies from film industries in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are also under way

From The Hindustan Times