Thursday Photo Challenge : Hard

It’s been sometime since I did Thursday Photo Challenge . Somehow just did not have any great pictures or maybe I wasn’t getting inspired enough to take up the challenge but here I am going for it again.

“HARD”  ((Rock, Ice, Brick, Steel, Cement,…)  is the theme this time .


Deforestation, indiscreet mining and rock cutting  by circumventing the laws, camouflaged by legal flaws,  is causing havoc to the fragile Eco system of Himachal Pradesh. Reckless felling of trees for cement and power plants, for dams and other industrial activities has become an environmental hazard although they give additional revenue to the state.

The seasonal rivers aren’t the same what they used to be some years back. The water levels have decreased in many areas and rivers are on the brink of drying up.

Heavy deforestation in the vicinity of reservoir and cultivation of reservoir land by locals has led to silting causing landslides and flash floods.  A disaster mitigation plan functional at the lowest level is need of the hour to stop the natural disasters and catastrophes.


In Memoriam : Shehla Masood – The dauntless tigress silenced

 Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Shehla wrote in a blog post.

RTI crusader, wildlife conservationist, trekker, social causes leader, president Progressive Muslim Women’s Association, a born rebel, arguing with policy makers, foodie… This is how the slain activist and social worker Shehla Masood described herself in her twitter account.

She was just 38 years of age.  A fierce wildlife activist who dared to expose those who were mercilessly plundering our rivers, forests, killing tigers and destroying environment and eco-system. She was raising concerns about the nexus between the mining mafia and the ruling political regime. She feared for her life and had written to DGP Madhya Pradesh  { LINK } . The question is why Bhopal police ignores the well-defined threats?

On Tuesday 16th August she was gunned down right in front of her home by unidentified assailants. It clearly seems that taking advantage of the general chaos and the fact that the entire nation was gripped and being swallowed by the (anna)conda movement the mafia empire engineered her cold-blooded killing. Shehla Masood joins the unfortunate ranks of Satyendra Dubey, Shanmughan Manjunath, Shashidhar Mishra & 100s of others who got death by RTI.

She was a fearless Right To Information activist, a committed wildlife conservationist. She was seeking action against those responsible for the  brutal killing of  Jhurjhura tigress . The tigress,  a mother of three was brutally hit five to six times before she succumbs to fatal injuries. She was left to the mercy of God, with her three cubs destitute and failing to understand why their mother was seething in pain. The forest watched quiescent. Nothing was done to nab the accused as it happens in all wildlife crimes.

Shehla was fighting a legal battle to bring justice to the slain tigress. She dared to raise her voice against the rampant poaching of tigers  and the mining mafia which works hand in glove with the govt and the officials. Shehla challenged the issue of illegal Diamond mining project in Chhattarpur district, Madhya Pradesh by Rio Tinto and paid with her life like many other environmentalists and wild life conservationists who show dauntless courage to stand up against the all-powerful mafiosi. Fact sheet on Rio Tinto’s Illegal Diamond Mining in MP  (from an email attachment)

A Requiem for a tigress   Do read.

Just  as the accused are never convicted for wildlife crimes the accused for killing the wildlife activists are never punished.  Take the case of Swami Nighamanand , the crusader for river Ganges , the  nation has already forgotten his sacrifice.

Shehla’s father is not sure if the assailants of her courageous daughter will ever be nabbed as the police authorities have already started the cover up process by floating an utterly unbelievable crappy story about the suicide angle in Shehla death case. { Link } [LINK } .

Apart from those who love and support her cause No one, absolutely no one has come up to become the  torch bearer to get justice for Shehla Masood who herself was  a staunch Anna Hazare supporter. His concern is logical. Where are the anti corruption fasters, the anna brigade ? Has anyone given a single thought to the Slain RTI activist ? The nation is engulfed in mass hysteria over AH circus while citizens get murdered in broad day light and assailants sit comfy under the protection of politicians and corrupt officials .. Is anyone going on a hunger strike for these brave hearts ? The state of Madhya Pradesh for whose forests , rivers and wild life Shehla gave her life was shut down for anna andolan but did not mourn or condemn the killing of  Shehla.

If you be the change you want to see you are murdered. Shehla Masood dared to speak out and was gunned down right in front of her home. She was an eyesore for some bureaucrats, politicians, and industrialist of the State, as she had become very powerful as whistleblower. She had filed RTI queries against 19 IAS (Indian Administrative Service), 13 IFS (Indian Forest Service) and seven IPS (Indian Police Service), sources revealed. Some of mining mafias of the State also had grudges against her since she was working against them for longer time.

Social activist Ajay Dubey demanded probe by Central Bureau of Investigation, (CBI), India’s premier investigating agency, into the murder of Ms Shehla. He expressed doubt that since she had raised questions regarding several tiger deaths across the state forest officials who were involved in the racket may have got her killed. Mufti Arsh Shariff, a cousin of Ms Shehla Masood, revealed that she had got a threatening call from a Delhi number on Monday night. Speculations are on and while the police and higher authorities try to hush the matter those who stand for her will never  let her roar die. It will echo and haunt  every vigilant citizen of India.

My blood boils when I see how much is at stake for those who are fighting to keep our flora and fauna, rivers and mountains to breathe free and survive the human onslaught.  I wonder if those who are supporting AH (I hate to call it a movement) brigade really know what exactly they are crying hoarse for. Wildlife Conservation is not even remotely in the minds of people and that is the reason life of those who work for it has lost its value. Don’t know how many more it will take to awaken the masses, govt. we can forget about.

Right To Information has claimed ten more lives in the year 2010

1. Amit Jethwa – Gujarat – Shot to death – Enquiries about illegal mining that were a danger to the Gir reserve – July 20, 2010

2. Dattatreya Patil (farmer) – Kohlapur, Maharashtra – Beaten up and slashed with swords – Filed RTI against horse trading in Kohlapur Municipal Election – May 31, 2010

3. Vitthal Gite – Beed, Maharashtra – Killed by under the member’s scanner. – Exposed irregularities in a school in his village – April 21, 2010

4. Arun Sawant – Badlapur, Maharashtra – Shot dead Feb 26, 2010

5. Satish Shetty – Pune – Assaulted by assailants Exposed major land scams, near Mumbai-Pune expressway – Jan 13 2010

6. Vishram Laxman Dodiya – Ahmadabad – Shot dead – Sought info on illegal electricity connections in the city – Feb 11 2010

7. Shashidhar Mishra (street vendor) – Begusarai, Bihar – Shot dead – Filed more than a 1000 petitions before his murder – Feb 14 2010

8. Ramdas Ghadegaokar – Nanded, Maharashtra – Stoned to death – Took on the sand mafia – August 2010

9. Sola Ranga Rao – Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh – Found murdered – Filed a petition on funding of the village draining system – April 11 2010

10. Irfan Yusuf Qazi – Jaitapur,Mahrashtra – Killed when his scooter was hit by a police jeep –  Protested against nuclear power plant in Jaitapur – December 18, 2010

This post is not just about Shehla Masood it is also a tribute to all those brave hearts who stood against the system, for whom  RTI became a death warrant . Who is safe in this country? Not the common people certainly and those who raise their voices against unjust their days are numbered.

Isn’t it Ironic that  Tigers, wildlife crusaders and RTI activists are being hunted and killed mercilessly.. they are the endangered species.

We want justice for Shehla Masood . We want the killers nabbed and convicted. 

Please add your name to  Statement on the martyrdom of Shehla Masood 

My earlier post on bloggers for tigers  

The spark that she left in everyone’s heart will become a flame,  her roar will not be silenced. 

Girte hain Sheh-Sawar hi Maidan-e-Jung me
Woh Tifl kya gire jo ghutno ke bal chale

Part of some information is collected from fellow activists and supporters of Shehla and Internet articles. Due copyright credits to them.All image credits  go to the rightful owners.

Quiet Flows The Ganges: Will Nigamanand’s Sacrifice Go Waste ?

The environment activist brave enough to stand up against the corrupt administration and the stone quarrying and mining nexus died an unsung death while the media and politicians drooled over a ‘high flying’ Baba Ramdev.

Swami Nigamananda, 34, had been fasting for 115 days in Haridwar. On April 27, Nigamanand’s  health started deteriorating and the authorities admitted him at the district hospital. He went into coma and had to be admitted in a very critical condition to the Jolly Grant Hospital in Dehradun on April 27, 2011. Since then he lay there unnoticed by media, authorities and rest of the nation. The case of his death in under investigation as traces of  high toxins were found in his blood.

Was he murdered by the land mafia?

Why didn’t the “saviors of Hinduism”, the state government , the center and  NGO’s do anything to support his cause while he was alive?

While political parties trade charges over the sear’s death  it has exposed the sensitive issue of  destruction of the fragile ecology of Ganga. A river which is not only considered Holy but also nourishes the areas where it quietly flows mourning its brave  crusader’s death. Nigamanand was a member of Matri Sadan  which  has struggled to save Ganga from illegal mining for the past 12 years. Swami Nigamanand  had earlier done fast from Jan 20, 2008 till April 1, 2008 after which Stone mining was banned but soon after some months it started again and then another activist Dayanand did 30 days fast in March 2009 to shun the illegal mining  from February 19 this year. Matri Sadan never gave up its struggle. Another member, Dayanand started his Satyagrah from 15th October 2009 which lasted for 163 days.

The official website of Matri sadan tells how for the last ten years  Himalayan Stone Crusher has indulged in extensive rampant stone quarrying and sand  mining in full co-operation with the administration. The river bed is plundered by cranes and trucks as government issues permits and the mafia digs deeper and deeper into areas which are restricted for mining all along the 80-km Ganga stretch from Muni ki Reti to Rishikesh in Tehri district and further up to Laksar town in Haridwar. There was hardly any official supervision. This kind of destruction leads to flooding . Due to the illegal blockades and obstructions my the mining mafia the river has shifted its original course by 500meters and can spell havoc for the flora and fauna in the areas nearby and for the people who stay there. Thousands of acres of agricultural land has been rendered barren.

It is not just the area near Haridwar but also in areas near Roorkee  where the river beds have developed crevices as deep as 40 feet, polluted water and depletion in fish catch  is visible here. Forest reserve like Rajaji National park is also bearing the burnt of mining posing a threat to the local ecology. The center and the state allots millions of rupees for saving  the Ganges but nothing effective emerges out of that. It is ironical that the state is losing crores of rupees due to illegal mining and yet it continues to thrive under the very nose of the district administration.

Nigamanand’s death raises yet another very grave question about the illegal mining of river beds across the nation and the nexus between the administration and the mining mafia. It is the same nexus which is involved in deforesting the forests and many such issues.  Gavel and sand is needed to meet the growing demand of raw material by the contractors for booming construction business and  riverbeds are the source for that. Supreme court and the district courts  have issued order to prevent illegal mining and they have been openly flaunted all along. These miners are mostly  influential people with a political clout and plunder the river openly. The result is nothing but suicidal.

Indiscriminate mining is posing a great thread to the river ecology across the country. Many of us can not foresee how this lack of governance and unchecked mining will affect us in future.This mindless, unrestrained and unregulated activity is posing threats of widespread depletion of water resources which will ultimately lead to unavoidable food shortages and hardships for the people. Unscrupulous contractors and corrupt government officials  are more than willing to ravage all the major rivers across the country. They are merrily excavating sand from the rivers generally disregarding all environmental regulations.

Country’s precious natural resources are being purloined in a big way, its forests are being clean-felled, land degraded and its rivers threatened with extinction and yet no one is taking strict measures. In a country where the media houses, government agencies, politicians everyone is solely focused on their own personal agenda who cares if an environmental activist dies  fighting for a cause ?

Why aren’t there strict measures to erase this nexus from the roots ?

What is the solution then ?

Will the battle started by Nigamanand slowly fade to the last page of the newspaper  and will the investigation of his death end the Arushi way?

Will the nation wake up and realize that  Nigamanand died for a serious cause and he was not a mass entertainer like Ramdev ?

Whysuch low priority given to the Ganga  matter where black money issue steals all the attention ?

Isn’t it worth pondering that no one had heard of Swami Nigamanand until today until the  news surfaced that he had died following a four-month fast against illegal mining on the banks of the Ganga?

We know that the state government and the officials lend a helping hand for the loot ? Why isn’t it checked  ?

Why  isn’t there an environmental clearance before any such permits are issued ?

Will Nigamanand’s sacrifice go waste or will it change the fate of Ganga  and maybe all the other rivers of our country ?

Do leave your views. 

(Images from Matri Sadan blog  and , facts from web)

World Environment Day : Simple Little Things To Do

So what is special today ? The world environment day comes every year with lots of pledges, promises , slogans and schemes from which many are forgotten as the days go by. I have parroted a thought since last few days :

Stay awake to nature and your surroundings , to yourself  and others and you will know what to do.

There is an urgent need for action in almost all the areas of conservation and preservation of our resources and those of us who are not at the helm of bigger projects MUST not add to the crisis looming large on planet earth.

Heal, reclaim, restore,
recycle, reuse, reduce

Each one of us knows these words and what they mean. We have been doing our bit too.  I feel involving children along with the youth is very essential.  Human activity has a great  impact on our environment but what we don’t known, often, is what impact environmental degradation is having on our health. The natural environment contributes to our health in many ways, such as through  quality of air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink.

We inhale  nano-particles,  get long-term exposure to pollution in urban environments, harmful algal toxins, there is climate change and emerging diseases – perhaps resulting from changing agricultural practices and that is not all. The scenario is very scary in the larger scheme of things. The human pressure on natural environments is greater than before in terms of magnitude and efficiency in disrupting nature and natural landscapes.

Expansion of human activities into the natural environment and the abrupt nature of human intervention. Loss of  species of flora and fauna. A large number of species are “threatened ” some are extinct, lost for ever.  These threats are directly linked to the loss  of habitat due to destruction, modification and fragmentation of ecosystem as well as from overuse of pesticides, intensive farming methods , poaching and general human disturbances. The air and water quality add to the problem.

Pollution especially from the vehicular traffic and industries is hazardous to everything living on this planet and its chromosphere.

So what are the simple things one can do to make it a better place to live in?

One can follow some simple rules and make them a part of living everyday.

Stop wastage of food. 

Wasting food is sacrilegious. According to a report  Food waste consumes resources, energy and time, harms the environment, increases greenhouse gases and disrupts  balance of food resources leading to poverty, malnutrition and hunger. There is not a shortage of food in the world; food is unequally distributed and wasted in vast amounts.

Though food is biodegradable rotting food releases methane gas a major cause of damage to ozone layer and global warming. Bigger landfills release toxins harmful to the environment.  Plant products, food waste, vegetable dump undergoes anaerobic decomposition, one can stop this breakdown by adopting some surplus food recycling techniques or by just making less food.

Save Electricity

Wake up early. make most use of the sunlight.  Remember to switch off lights, fans, AC  and any other electrical appliances after use but  you don’t need to turn off a fan  or a light bulb/ tube if you are going to use it after a minute or so and vice versa. If you do so, you will end up spending more electricity!

Keep gadgets in power saving mode.

If you turn off your monitor for a minute, a bulb can be lit in some remote part of India for about 2 minutes.

Use CFL or energy-saving lights.

Use solar energy if possible. Install solar heaters, solar cooker etc.

Washing machines and dishwashers should be used only when fully loaded it will save both electricity and water.

Keep the blinds, drapes drawn in summer and use ceiling fans more than AC. Similarly in winter keep them open so the house is warmed by sunlight.

Save Water 

Water conservation can be done at a very big scale at home.

Keep taps close. Fix  leakage. Try not to use showers , garden hose etc. Recycle water by using the water used for washing clothes etc for cleaning the stairs, balconies , terrace etc. Keep a small bucket handy in the kitchen. Pour all the water used for washing pulses, rice , veggies etc in that. Use it for watering the plants.  Don’t keep the tap running while brushing, shaving etc. Any remaining water and ice which is normally thrown away should be used for something such as watering plants. I use the water from the fish tank for my plants. It is rich in nutrients essential for plant growth.

Rainwater harvesting is another much-needed way to conserve water and a must for all. One should try to incorporate it as much as possible.

There are many other ways in which you can cut wastage of water. Think and make a list of your own.

Save Paper 

I always tell children to make use of all old notebooks till there is no space left to write. Use them for making notes, rough work, calculations, making lists etc. Similarly one should use the leaflets which come in the newspapers for similar uses. I cut them in handy rectangles and clip them in board to use them for listing things and making  notes etc.

Old newspapers should be given for recycling instead of the scrap dealer. Not a single sheet of paper should be wasted. Opting for e-billing helps save paper.

When my kids were very small I used to give them sheets of newspaper to cut and paint instead of new white sheets.

Always think before you use the printer. we waste so much of paper in printing. Use both sides if you can. Same goes for photocopying.

Reuse envelopes.

Donate old magazines, books to libraries.

Did you know if everyone save one sheet of paper per day, then 40,000 trees are saved per year.

Practice the three R’s


Stop air pollution from Vehicular Traffic 

Drive less ,walk more or cycle if nor use carpool.

Use public transport where you can

Adopt smart driving habits and reduce car emissions

Proper maintenance of your vehicle can reduce pollution in big way.

Get your vehicle inspected for pollution control when required.

Use alternative fuels such as CNG/LPG/Propane/ battery operated… etc.

To stop vehicular or any other pollution we need to either stop it or take corrective measures to control it.

Cleaner fuels, newer technologies , public transport system, private initiative like carpools etc  can be some measures.

The need is to change the social mindset . To wake up to the fact that if we do not take serious measures right now the repercussions will be irreversible

Encourage tree planting. use the dead leaves, peels of used veggies, fruits etc for making compost.

Collect seeds save them and plant in the next season. One can make it a fun activity with kids. Involving them in gardening and plant care helps them to develop a bond with the earth. The greener our earth will be the more there will be chances of our survival.

Trees help in noise reduction , pollution control, keep the atmospheric levels cool thereby reducing the heating and cooling bills, conserve rainwater. Apart from the sense of well-being they provide they also are home to large number of birds, insects, animals . They intercept airborne particles and thus cleanse the air around us. They also reduce soil erosion.

Have plants around your home. Keep them healthy.

Stop Using Plastic Bags 

Use the really cool jute or cotton bags . Every year five hundred billion plastic bags are used world over. Isn’t it alarming?

Read  about  Plastic’s  impact on world environment and how we can reduce it.  (LINK )

By taking simple measures we can contribute to keeping out planet safe.

Want to do your bit to combat climate change?

Wear your jeans at least thrice before washing them and then do so in cold water, don’t use the dryer and not the iron either, says the UNEP. This will consume up to five times less energy.

Let’s join hands to make our planet greener, Safer and healthy …