03:07 pm Rampur, Two wild tuskers, stranded in a town in Uttar Pradesh's Rohilkhand region who had sent forest officials on a wild goose chase for the past almost three and a half weeks, have finally been tranquilized. After the crucial tranquilisation carried out late on Wednesday the tuskers were now being transported by road from Bareilly to Pilibhit where they would be pushed back to forests by Thursday afternoon. "While one tusker has almost reached the Pilibhit forest outskirts, the other one which took longer to be mounted on a truck, has also crossed Bareilly toll plaza," Rajesh Pandey, DIG Bareilly range told IANS. The tuskers who drifted away from their usual pathways in forests bordering Uttar Pradesh on the Nepal border (near Pilibhit) had strayed into town area, killing more than five people at different locations at different time during these weeks. Talking to the IANS, Chief Conservative of Forest, Lalit Verma said that the two tuskers were tamed by the experts in the town of Malik, located between Rampur and Bareilly in Rohilkhand region. The wild elephants were finally tranquilised and are being transported to forests by a special truck, meant for transportation of the mamoths. Earlier forest authorities requested the DIG in Barelly to clear the highway so that tuskers could be transported to Pilibhit (forest) within the stipulated time. Armed police and special elephant patrol teams were deployed by the Forest Department to contain the tuskers who had lost their way in jungle and strayed into urban area. The two wild elephants, wandering from one spot to another since the past forthnight, had killed five person in separate incidents. On Monday last, the jumbos reached Mirzapur village, 15 km from Rampur and trampled one Raju Yadav who was returning home from work on bicycle. According to villagers, Raju was not aware of the presence of the wild elephants in the village. He unwittingly came close to them on the road near his house and was trampled and killed. Two weeks ago, the wild tuskers killed a person identified as Baijnath in Bilaspur tehsil and injured two others. Forest officials then had said that they were trying to divert the elephants towards Bahedi in Bareilly district. Forest officials had also got two more cow elephants from the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve for push-and-pull process to lure the tuskers away from human habitation to the forests. Earlier Divisional Forest Officer, Rampur, A.K. Kashyap, supervising the operation had said: "We are taking all necessary precautionary measures to divert them in case they do so. We have made arrangements for lighting a fire and keeping husk with chilli powder and firecrackers in hand." Forest officials had installed loudspeakers on their vehicles and were going around all villages situated within 10-km radius of Peepal Sana, telling villagers keep away from their fields for safety. Similar announcements were also made from mosques on Monday. Earlier, P.P. Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Jhansi, and in-charge of elephant rescue operation, said: "Though the tuskers diverted towards a westward direction, they were still in our range. There is nothing to panic. Due to weekly markets held at the villages in Rampur on Saturday, we could not conduct the push-and-pull process properly. "However, we will continue with our strategy to move the two bull elephants in the right direction. Though we are taking help of three cow elephants from Dudhwa in our rescue operation, we have sought two more for assistance. We are expecting the two cow elephants to arrive by Monday." Rampur divisional forest officer A.K. Kashyap said that the elephants are now likely to be shifted to Amangarh Tiger Reserve in Bijnore district. He said that the tuskers were tranquilized on an agricultural field in Khata Chintamaan village under Milak sub-division by a team of experts. P.P. Singh, chief conservator of forests, Jhansi, and the in-charge of elephant rescue operation, said, "The elephants were sedated in a standing position. Their legs were then tied with the help of excavators. They will be transported from the area on Thursday." High drama was witnessed at the site of the rescue as hundreds of people had gathered to witness the operation and heavy police force was deployed in the area to control the crowd. Rampur chief medical officer rushed two ambulances to the spot as a precautionary measure. A team of more than 150 forest officials from six districts of Uttar Pradesh apart from other experts from various parts of the country were also present. The wild elephants were first spotted in the agriculture belt of Amaria block of Pilibhit district on June 24. Officials suspect that they strayed out of Uttarakhand and entered Bareilly's Lakhimpur village from Amaria. They later killed a 45-year-old farmer on June 27 and another person on June 30. On July 2, the elephants trampled a man to death in Rudrapur's Rampura Colony. The next day, they killed a forest guard in Tigri village. Similarly on July 14, they killed another man in Rampur's Chandpur Qadeem village taking the total death toll to five. source:ians
03:07 pm Satna (Madhya Pradesh): Shripal Mawasi, a resident of Putrichuwa village in Madhya Pradeshs Satna district, has to help his cow stand up. The cow is not sick, shes famished; a bit too weak to even stand on its own. Putrichuwa has been facing a massive water crisis and thus Shripal couldnt arrange enough water for his cow. "I had bought this cow four years ago for Rs 1,000. She gave birth to two calves during this period but this year proved to be bad for her. Due to the water and food crisis, I failed to feed her. When water is not available for humans itself, how can we provide it to animals?" asked Shripal. This is the situation in almost every household in this village. Abandoned cows at roadsides and in deserted fields are a common sight in the region. Rameshwar Mawasi, a resident of Barha Mawan village of Satna, said the residents of the village had predicted a drought in March and sold off their big cattle. He informed that now villagers have only goats for cattle as people have abandoned their cows and buffaloes owing to the shortage of food and water. Even during monsoons, there is no end to this problem. According to the statistics released by the Indian Meteorological Department, the state has received 56 per cent less rainfall between June 1 and June 26 compared with the same period last year. The average rainfall should have been 91.4 mm during this period but the state received only 45.1 mm rainfall. The condition of Satna district is particularly bad. The district received 58 per cent less rain than last year between June 1 and June 26. From June 20 to June 26, the district received only 6 mm rainfall while the average precipitation is 46.3 mm. This district has been receiving unfavourable spells of rainfall for the last two years. In 2018, the rainfall in this region was 784 mm, while it was 743.2 mm in 2017. The average rainfall in this region is 1039 mm. Bhurelal Mawasj, a resident of Putrichuwa village, said he regrets buying a cow. He highlighted that if the rains are delayed by another two weeks, everyone will lose their cattle. Struggle for water Not only animals, even humans are facing great difficulty because of scarcity of food and water. Women walk nearly four km to fetch drinking water. Forty-year-old Phool Bai, a resident of Putrichuwa, said that seven hand pumps in the village have dried up and the women go to a nearby pond and a well to fetch water. The severity of the water crisis is similar in the nearby villages of Majhgawan block. "There is a lone functional hand pump in the village and that too gives dirty water. One has to keep pumping for 15 minutes to fill a 20-litre bucket," said Rajaram Mawasi, a 55-year-old resident of Kiraipukhari village. He added that while the villagers use water from the hand-pump only for drinking purposes, water for animals and other household work is obtained from a pond three km away from the village. An average resident of the village walks 15 to 16 km to fetch water twice or thrice every day, he said. Satendra Singh, the district collector of Panna, was not available to comment on the scarcity of water and the steps the government has taken to address this shortage.
03:07 pm New Delhi: Most Indians may still need a push to visit art galleries and museums, but when the national capital's favourite commuting mode Metro Rail doubles up as a contemporary art gallery itself, it is not uncommon to see Delhiwallahs stop, look and even click an occasional selfie. Whether it is abstract or realistic art, colourful ceramic tiles or informative panels, the wide station network of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) seems to have it all covered, as the modern transport service that began in 2002 and continues to expand, zooms in on art and culture. The artworks at Pink Line's Johri Enclave station is a tribute to the eminent classical artists of India. Creative portraits of great artists like shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan, noted flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, popular vocalist Shubha Mudgal and sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar dot the station premises. The Pink Line and Indian cultural symbols seem to coalesce in more stations, especially Gokulpuri and Shiv Vihar, which exhibit different dance cultures of our country: Dhunuchi, Bhangram, Dandiya Raas, Bharatanatyam, for the former and Chhau, Cham and Kathputli for the latter. On the Hauz Khas station, an intersection of the Yellow and Magenta Lines, historical monuments galore. Lodhi Tombs, the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Jama Masjid, and Humayun's Tomb reflect the diverse cultural fabric of India. Many other metro stations are ready takers of art on history and heritage. Mandi House comes first to mind. The works here chronicles the journey of the area from brick kilns to a culture hub. Its panels display digital prints of original maps and vintage photographs, like a rare aerial view of the Modern School at Barakhamba, an old photograph of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru opening the Sapru House, and actor Naseeruddin Shah in a 1973 theatre production by theatre doyen Ebrahim Alkazi. Rare images of Dadi Pudumjee, under whom the Sri Ram Centre established the first modern puppet theatre are also on display. At the INA metro station, the DMRC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Textiles, has also installed 58 panels of handicrafts and handlooms created by craftsmen from across India - from Mithila paintings from Bihar to terracotta tiles from Rajasthan. Two stations on the long and busy Blue Line, Karol Bagh and Karkardooma, use ceramic artworks and painted wall works to show signs of a modern, progressive society. While the Karol Bagh murals feature development aspects like education and technology, the Karkardooma station, which opens near the Karkardooma District Court, has references to the judiciary: a set of scales and hands, handcuffs, police and a colossal Ashok Chakra. Nature enthusiasts who commute by metro are not disappointed as well, as Mandawali-West Vinod Nagar has its focus on flora and fauna, and the walls of this station feature vibrant paintings of leaves, flowers, toucans and koi fish. Serene! Regular metro commuters would also know of the Metro Museum at the Patel Chowk Metro Station, which traces the genesis of the Delhi Metro which took 32 years to reach the operational stage from the drawing boards. As per DMRC, Delhi Metro stations that cover almost every corner of the NCR today are perfect spaces for the promotion of India's art and culture "Such projects have also contributed towards the beautification of the city in general. We have also tried to portray the heritage and history of the areas around the stations. For example, the stations passing through old Delhi has artworks related to that area," a DMRC spokesperson told IANS. For now, Delhi Metro's present span of over 370 km and 271 stations (including the Noida-Greater Noida Aqua Line) has a lot to offer to its average daily ridership of about 30 lakh people.
03:07 pm New Delhi: Even after giving almost 40 years of his life to government service, retired civil servant S.K. Misra felt his work was still not complete. The former bureaucrat felt that the experience he had gained and the reputation he had built could be better used for public service. Thus began his second innings. After he retired as the Principal Secretary to former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar in the early 1990s, Misra continued his work in the fields of conservation and restoration of heritage, rural development, women empowerment and community engagement. Standing strong at 87, the Padma Bhushan recipient heads the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD), a non-governmental organisation set up in 2011 that works in villages with strong, often endangered, heritage traditions with projects spread across eight states. "I could never think of total retirement or sitting idle. I felt that the experience that I had gained, I should put that experience to social purpose. I am 87-years-old now and I still can't think of just relaxing," Misra, who also served as tourism, civil aviation and agriculture secretary in the union government and was also principal secretary to three Haryana chief ministers, told IANS in an interview. He added that other officers who gain experience should not just hang up their boots after retirement, but should continue to work "as there are so many areas where work needs to be done and where their experience could be utilised". After retirement, Misra served as the chairman of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the biggest NGO in the country concerned with restoration of heritage, for almost 10 years. But, the need for an organisation focusing solely on rural heritage, birthed ITRHD. "INTACH was primarily urban oriented and was concerned only with conservation. The new NGO, formed in collaboration with a number of distinguished persons from different walks of life, was concerned with conservation of rural heritage and also rural development along with community involvement," he said. Founded with the aim of helping create sustainable viability for heritage while also focusing on its potential as a resource for overall development, his NGO concentrates on infrastructure development, primary education, skill development, employment generation, and development of rural tourism. "In all our projects, the goal is not only to preserve important heritage assets for their own meaning and value, but to help the impoverished rural communities that own them to learn how to successfully manage previously unrecognized heritage resources, in the process achieving self-sufficiency, improved living conditions, and a new sense of pride as owners of these special and most precious parts of our culture," Misra said. While in Jharkhand, ITRHD is working on restoration of 17th century terracotta temples and restoration of a historic jail, in Haryana's Mewat district, it has undertaken a project to restore an extraordinary 700-year-old monument, the Dargah of Sheikh Musa -- a medieval Sufi saint. "In the Maluti village in Jharkhand, there is a unique heritage site with 62 terra-cotta temples. There were 108 temples and now only 62 remain - all in one village," While Misra took the initiative to conserve and protect these unique monuments in 2011, the Jharkhand government in 2015 agreed to fund the entire project with a budget of Rs 7 crore. "The work is going on and we hope to complete it by end of this year," the former bureaucrat said. "In addition, the state government has also entrusted a project of conserving a historical jail in Ranchi which housed freedom fighters of the tribe called Munda. After restoration, it is to be converted into a tribal museum," he added. Started late last year, the project is expected to be completed by 2019 end. In Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district, Misra's NGO is working on an initiative to preserve the heritage of an "unusual cluster of historical creativity" of three villages - Nizamabad, Mubarakpur and Hariharpur. Holding India's rich cultural heritage and soft power, Hariharpur has a long classical music tradition, Nizamabad a unique tradition of black pottery, and Mubarakpur thousands of fine silk weavers. "We now organize Azamgarh Festivals annually in both Delhi and Lucknow, at which the artists and musicians from all three villages not only attract new patronage and new support, but also are creating new appreciation for the cultural riches of Azamgarh," Misra said. He realised during his stint as Tourism Secretary that craftsmen need patronage which tourism could provide, he added. "Earlier, they had patronage of Maharajas but that had disappeared. So I felt that tourism can fill that vacuum." This was when he started Surajkund Crafts Mela in 1986 which has now become a global event with about 14 lakh people attending this year, including 60,000 foreigners. Misra says that this benefited craftsmen and its success inspired him to continue similar work even after his retirement. In the musicians' village of Hariharpur, Misra's NGO is also running a primary school offering free education especially focusing on the girl child. The school has recruited local married girls settled in the village, and who had done their graduation, as teachers. The school originally started in a rented building is now functioning from a four-room structure made possible through donations. "We have also achieved social integration through schoolchildren of all communities - Dalit, Brahmin and Yadav, among others have their meals together. Brahmin families initially resisted but we asked them to take their children out. But they came around and now there is no problem. Now there is no feeling of any kind of discrimination," Misra said. The civil-servant-turned-social-worker feels that women empowerment is crucial for India's development. "It is one of the biggest untapped sources in socio-economic development where, apart from some success stories, there hasn't been as much impact as there could have been. The potential is tremendous," he said, adding this was where NGOs supported by the government can play a dynamic role.
03:07 pm Lucerne: It's a giant dying lion carved into the cliff face of a former sandstone quarry, above a pond and set in a landscaped garden in this medieval town. It is often referred to as the "saddest stone" as it commemorates the sacrifice of 800 Swiss guardsman in the pay of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution - but is now threatened with decay, chiefly from melting snow. Not surprisingly, the Lion Monument, one of Switzerland's most loved icons and described by American author Mark Twain as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world", is visited by some 1.4 million tourists who come to gaze at the regal beast, dying from a spear wound marked by a shield bearing the mark of the French monarchy. Above it is the inscription: HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI (To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss). The monument, ten metres in length and six metres in height, has a very emotional history. When the angry masses stormed the royal palace on August 10 1792, the 800 Swiss guardsmen stood as the defenders of the the monarchy - but in vain. Their defeat was devastating. Surrounded by popular tourist attractions like the Glacier Garden, the Alpineum and the Bourbaki Panorama, the monument was initiated by Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen, a junior lieutenant with the Swiss guardsmen who was on leave at the time and thus escaped the massacre. In 1793 he felt obliged to erect a monument in honour of his fallen officers, comrades and soldiers and it took almost 30 years to complete amidst of several design and architectural changes. The monument was designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewed by Lukas Ahorn. Completed in 1821, it will mark its 200th anniversary in 2021. "Before the Lion Monument was erected, the area had not yet been built on. However, intensive construction began in 1870. Due to the constant building activity, with numerous new buildings and conversions up to the present time, the situation of the garden with the lion monument has steadily deteriorated," Damian Suess of Lucerne Tourism told this visiting IANS correspondent. "The Lucerne administration took over the monument in 1882 and in 1891, a report on its condition was drawn up. On the basis of that report, it was decided that the conservation of the monument, renewal of the weathered areas, preservation of the rock around the monument and the laying of a protective stiffener above the rock face would be done," Suess explained. In 1902 construction of a new framework to protect the monument from snow in winter was planned and executed - but tragedy struck in 1950. "That autumn, a piece of the lion's thigh, at least a meter long, detached and fell into the pond. That was a major blow for the authorities, who were struggling hard to protect the monument and restoration work immediately began," Suess said. Rock protection measures were undertaken in 1978 and minor repair work was carried out on the lion in 1982. On the upper right side, a larger rock section of approximately 15 tonnes was stabilised and in 1990, the monument was thoroughly washed with water. Drainage has been a perpetual problem. The area behind the quarry is heavily forested with the temperature plunging to zero degrees Celsius in winter accompanied by snow. A series of pipes were laid to prevent the melting snow in spring from seeping into the rockface and to drain the water into the pond. "Despite all efforts, the condition of the monument deteriorated rapidly. Taking this seriously, all copper pipes for draining the water were replaced in 2004. Further measures were taken in 2008 to improve the water flow and thus protect the monument," Suess pointed out. So, in order to save its most beloved monument from adverse climatic conditions and erosion, the Lucerne administration has spent millions of Swiss Francs and is expected to do so for many more years because it attracts great testimonials from people around the world.
07:07 am New Delhi: (IANS) As many as 24 states in the country, including food baskets Punjab and Haryana, have received deficient rainfall in June as the sluggish pace of monsoon raises worries with 250 districts across India reeling under severe water crisis. Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat told IANS on the sidelines of an event here that "there is deficit rainfall till now. Let's hope for the best." While all eyes are now on the weather god, reports have not been encouraging with private forecaster Skymet predicting a below normal monsoon this year. Mahesh Palawat, Director at Skymet, said the precipitation in July and August may remain below average. However, Palawat claimed that it will not impact the agriculture sector. June ended with a rain deficit of 33 per cent. For states like Punjab, it was the first dry June since 2014. The monsoon has missed its scheduled arrival at almost all the places in north India. There are five states, including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi, where rainfall has been about 60-99 per cent below the normal. India Meteorological Department (IMD) scientist Mrutyanjay Mohapatra, who will take over as the next chief of the weather agency in August, said that there will be 95 per cent of average rainfall in July and the overall monsoon forecast will be revised by July-end. It means that July may also witness below average rainfall. Poor rains in July will worsen the prevailing drought-like situation in the country. Meanwhile, the Jal Shakti Ministry on Monday launched a campaign that will run till November 30 to accelerate progress on water conservation in 1,592 water stressed blocks spread across 256 districts. The campaign talks about rain water harvesting, renovation of water bodies, recharging groundwater and afforestation, among others issues. However, the Union Ministry has gone into a 'wait and watch' mode as far as the current monsoon season and droughts are concerned. Scarcity of water has become a major issue in Maharashtra's Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, Bundelkhand that spreads across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and in parts of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Maharashtra government's much-touted Jalyukt Shivar scheme, in which deepening of streams and ponds is carried out, too has failed to provide water to the people. Water conservationist Vijay Borade called the scheme "unscientific", saying that digging activities were carried out without studying geological and topographical aspects. "Just digging deeper does not help you conserve water. There should have been different studies in different areas. At many places in Marathwada, the scheme has caused wells to go dry as digging nullah deeper has led to water flow going away from the wells," Borade said.