Heavy rains lash Nagpur, throw life out of gear

NAGPUR: The heavy showers that lashed the city on Tuesday disrupted traffic on several thoroughfares and arterial roads leading to chaos. Many of those returning home after work were caught in traffic jams as the roads were waterlogged.

The main roads at Sadar, Cotton Market, Narendra Nagar and Shankar Nagar square were the worst hit, with vehicles stuck in a gridlock. Road users were angry as NMC had failed to clean storm water drains across the city. The traffic police had a tough time regulating traffic in the affected areas. In a few areas, traffic constables were seen opening manhole covers to enable free flow of rainwater into the drains.

A few trees were also uprooted in areas such as Khare Town in Dharampeth and Mate Chowk. Rain water gushed into houses in many low-lying area, said fire officials. Many areas including Dharampeth were also plunged into darkness after electric cables were snapped due to the falling trees.

From TOI

Nagpur: Greens aye Vidarbhawith forests intact

NAGPUR: Will Vidarbha be a viable state? Greens say yes, but feel that a lot will depend on how it is projected. The past experience has been bad as leaders have lacked vision and courage. The statehood demand has been fuelled after Congress green-signalled Telangana. TOI talked to leading conservationists and environmentalists who were cautious whether the new state would be self-reliant. They said experience of new states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh showed they were overexploiting natural resources. This was dangerous, they said.

Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation, said Vidarbha’s forest richness and not just mineral richness would have to be considered in view of climate change concerns. Rithe thoughtlessly sanctioned mining and dam projects in the new state would make it lose forest cover which was not advisable. Green technology and some better irrigation alternatives could actually provide power and irrigation respectively.

Some states import raw material and produce finished products for sale domestically or overseas. “I see no wisdom in this,” Rithe said. The conservationist said Vidarbha no doubt had many strengths. It was famous for oranges and cotton. It held two-thirds of Maharashtra’s mineral resources, three quarters of its forest resources and is a power-surplus region. The region always remained calm during communal troubles. Yet, it is economically backward compared to rest of Maharashtra.

If Vidarbha gets separated, its 11 districts will have geographical area of 96,097 sq km with a population of over 2.06 crore. Of this, 37,251 sq km will be forest cover. Vidarbha’s Nagpur and Amravati revenue divisions presently occupy 31.6% of the total area and hold 21.3% of total population of Maharashtra.

Vidarbha would be a viable state only if leaders and policy-makers, who were forcing urban and rural ‘development model’ on tribals in forested districts for the past 60 years change their vision. The rigid policies have resulted in migration of tribal youths to cities to such an extent that tribal development department was now unable to spend its budget, he said.

Prof Nishikant Mukherjee, managing director of Tiger Environment Centre (TEC), a global NGO working for environment and tiger protection, felt Vidarbha could be a successful state if projected properly. Today, tourism was the second biggest industry in the world after oil and energy, he said. Vidarbha was a tiger country with a large number of sanctuaries and reserves. “The region can earn Rs 7,000 crore annually if it markets tourism potential. Last year 6 million foreign tourists visited Taj Mahal and India’s tiger destinations. If we managed to get 10% of them, Vidarbha can be self-sufficient. If small states like Kerala and Chhattisgarh are doing ok, why can’t we?” he asked.

“If you look at the value chain of Vidarbha. It supplies cheap labour and raw material to entire state. It’s like a colony which gives everything to rest of Maharashtra but gets meagre benefits in lieu for its big support,” said Prof Mukherjee.

Vidarbha had rich forests that are non-performing assets as of now. It did not mean that development should be at the cost of forests but they should be converted into economic assets, specially as carbon sinks that world values. However, important point is vision, strong leadership and courage, he added.

Conservationist Prafulla Bhamburkar, assistant manager of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) felt, there should be a debate on statehood and mass public support should be rallied. Both things were lacking now. The region had 56% of the state’s forest and in a separate state, forests should not become target of new development.

Vidarbha’s forests should be used to get carbon credits and should be encashed through eco-tourism and not given away for mines and dams. “It shouldn’t happen that while state is carved out, leaders will retain 33% of forest cover as per the National Forest Policy 1988 and divert remaining forests for mining and other detrimental projects,” he stressed.

Bhamburkar wanted Vidarbha state but by keeping forests intact. He was cautious about the demand as leaders did not look beyond self-gains and lacked vision.

From TOI

Nagpur: Plastic bag ban only on paper

NAGPUR: IT has been over four years since the state government banned plastic bags of below 50-micron thickness. Still, anyone going shopping can easily get their grocery items or vegetables in one of these ultra thin plastic bags that are blamed for choking up drains as well as cattle that ingest them from garbage heaps. The menace remains strong. Reason: Nagpur Municipal Corporation, which is supposed to enforce the ban, has miserably failed in its job.

Barring leading departmental stores, almost all shops were using plastic bags of five to 10 micron thickness, NMC sources said. The sale and use these bags were continuing unabated across the city. However, now civic body has decided to take action against the erring manufacturers and dealers. Civic officials have once again started conducting raids on various shops, plastic units and even roadside vendors. Since last two months, during such raids 2128 kg of banned plastic bags were seized from various establishments and over Rs 55,000 were recovered from the violators as fines.

The NMC squads, by health officer (sanitation) Dr Milind Ganvir and officials of health department from various zones, were conducting the raids. The a health department official informed that in a recent raid on a plastic bag manufacturer at Itwari, the flying squad had seized over 2025 kg bags below 50 microns. For the first time, the accused manufacturer was fined Rs 6,000. However, if found repeating the offence, he would be fined Rs 10,000 and may also earn imprisonment of six months, he added.

From TOI

India – Nagpur – Wildlife Sanctuary for Tigers

NAGPUR: City MP Vilas Muttemwar has strongly pleaded with Union minister of housing and tourism Kumari Selja to consider developing Nagpur as a major eco-tourism centre. The city and Vidarbha region had many historical and places of tourist interest that lie neglected. There were a number of tiger reserves around the city which could be promoted in a big way as gateway to the tiger land, he said in a letter.

“Tourism is the biggest industry the world over and the fastest growing segment is of wildlife and adventure tourism. They are major moneyspinners and India has assets to take a pole position in this industry,” Muttemwar pointed out. Tadoba Andhari, Pench, Nagzira, Melghat, Navegaon and Bor are wildlife sanctuaries situated 70 to 150 km from Nagpur while the famous Kanha, around 250 km away, and Bandhavgarh are easily accessible from here, the MP wrote.

Tigers having a dip in Bor Wildlife Sanctuary

Tigers having a dip in Bor Wildlife Sanctuary

“Six million foreign tourists visit India annually and if necessary infrastructure is set up and aggressive marketing done, Nagpur-Vidarbha could attract a big chunk of this traffic. This will provide large scale employment as tourism has great potential as an economic activity,” Muttemwar explained.

“Looking to the enormous opportunity, I request you to have a blueprint prepared for an integrated development of tiger-based tourism in the region,” the MP has said. He has also urged forest and environment minister Jairam Ramesh to discuss ecotourism based on tiger reserves at the Tiger Conclave that the minister is planning to hold at Ranthambore in October-November.