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Green Force Brings Back Green Glory

The Balipara Reserve Forest, which was once barren and void of trees, now begins to bring back the greens again by dint of a noble effort of some ex-servicemen of Assam. There has been drastic changes spanning four years in Balipara Reserve Forest of Sonitpur district of Assam. In fact, the district happens to be one of the world’s most deforested districts. Enter Eco Task Force (ETF) of the Ecological Territorial Army, a part of the Indian Army envisages plantation drive for aforestation in devastated areas including the one at Sonitpur district of Assam in the Balipara Reserve Forest.

The unit has so far planted 2.8 million saplings, covering an area of 2,750 hectares since September 2008 with the help of the State Forest Department and the Rainforest Research Institute of Assam. The unit is presently carrying out plantation under the leadership of Col. Rakesh Singh. His team has seen massive deforestation over the past decade because of rampant wood felling and encroachment at the Balipara Reserve Forest. The 134th unit of the ETF is maintaining a large nursery to cater approximately 10 lakh saplings per year. The unit works in tandem with the State Forest Department and Rainforest Research Institute supporting wildlife conservation efforts as well.

The 125th unit of the ETF in Kokrajhar district in Bhutan border in collaboration with the Department of Forest and 15 Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army carried out a unique attempt at Khalasi near Jharbari on April 29, 2012. One hundred men planted 44,885 saplings within one hour on the bank of Saralbhanga river under Haltugaon Forest Division in Kokrajhar district to enter the Guiness Book of World Records. The 135 ETF has performed the exercise by exceeding the current Guiness record that was set in Nothern Ireland by planting 14,463 saplings. It needs mention that the earlier record of planting maximum number of trees in one hour by 100 volunteers was made at the Gransha Park in Nothern Ireland in the year 2009. About 30 hectares of land were projected in the site for the plantation. The success of both units is attributed to the training provided by Rainforest Research Institute in Jorhat district of Assam. Last year both units had attended a week’s training in forest management at the institute.

While planning trees the values of the trees were taken into account because of felling and immense loss of forest cover. A number of training sessions had been undertaken by the institute. The institute provides latest updates and technical expertise on different plantations management best suited for the soil and climatic condition of the NorthEast India. The battalions do not plant commercially valuable trees like agar, saal, segoon(teak) and the like because they are likely to be chopped dawn by smugglers for their value. As the fauna of the place need to be sustained they do not go for monocropping, so that in case of diseases or pests the whole section does not die out. The unit chooses from a variety of plantation as per the suitability of the area. Along with the gamari, saal, shisu, radhasura and krishnachura, they plant kalajamun, leteku and guava for primates and birds. On the banks of the river, the strong earth-binding simolu trees are planted to resist erosion. Presently the 134 unit is engrossed in the cause of Nameri National Park and Tiger Reserve planting in the areas of Rangajan. Revival of Rangajan, adjacent to Nameri National Park will allow movement of wildlife from Nameri to Balipara.

It is to be mentioned that in northeast India more than 7% of forest cover has been annually lost since the past several years. “We are implementing the plantation project with a firm objective to grow three million saplings to restore the depleted forest area and bring back an almost similar eco-system as earlier” says Col Narinder Rawat, the Project Officer of 134th unit. His team plants 900 saplings per hectare. The areas were taken over from the State Forest Department with a thin layer of grass and without any tree cover. Most of the areas denuded of forest cover was under seasonal cultivation. Maintaining the growing saplings or trees is another problem, as the officials of the unit said.

“All personnel of the 134th Eco Task Force are commited to the revival and restoration of the lost glory of the forests of Assam”, said Col. Sherawat, one of the commanders of the 134th unit based in Gamani village along the Balipara-Bhalukpung road in the district. The men in green say, “Handling trees instead of gun was a shock but then again, defending Mother Earth from degradation is an ever greater service and we are proud to be a part of the process.”

It is to be recalled that formation of the ecological battalion was proposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to restore the degraded forest. In fact the territorial army mooted and raised the ecological battalion for the noble cause of plantation. Now there are eight Eco Battalions in the country working in three states. Inspired by the success of ETF in some states, on a proposal initiated by government of Assam with the auspices of Ministry of Environment and Forest ETF units were raised in Assam also.

Both the ETF units in Assam mostly comprise ex-servicemen who are trying to bring back the vanishing greens in the stretches of Assam-Arunachal Pradesh and Assam-Bhutan border. With the sole motive to provide employment opportunities to the youths of various parts of the country it is impertinent that governments of other states should set up Eco Task Forces and like Assam set up a Green Regiment as a state force. States which do not have such programs should initiate and formulate policies to safeguard the environmental ecology and generate degraded forests in their states with the help of the masses, and the various government and non-government agencies concerned.

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Chandan Kumar Duarah's picture

The writer is a former Robert Bosch Fellow, an environmentalist and Guwahati based journalist.

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Tea garden tractors plying without permit since 1955

22 Oct 2009 - 10:55am | Jayanta Kumar Das

A tea garden tractor with registration number ASD 3114 , (which got its registration in the District Transport Office at Tezpur in Sonitpur district 54 years back in the year 1955). But will you believe that this tractor has been plying on commercial purposes since these long years without permit, fitness certificate, pollution control certificates thereby showing not only a thumb to the Motor Vehicle Act of the country but also incurring a loss of revenue amounting to a total amount of Rs. 40,500 This is not the only tractor plying without the permit, fitness certificate and pollution control certificate. A total number of 24 tractors have been plying without any valid documents since last several decades causing a loss of revenue amounting to an unbelievable total of Rs. 5,60,950

Now our esteemed readers may ask for the identity of the owner of these un authorized tractors. The owner is none but the Nonoipara Tea Garden of the Goodriche Company a giant multi national tea company. Though the allegations of encroachment of government land, illegal felling of valuable trees etc frequently claims the headlines but the gross violation to the law of the land at the behest of certain tea companies has recently come to the light following a sudden checking programme initiated by Udalguri District Transport Officer Bhaben Deuri. Accompanied by in charge Additional Deputy Commissioner of Bhergaon Sub Division Debajyoti Dutta, a police team of Paneri police station led by the Officer in Charge, Motor Vehicle Inspector Jayanta Deuri and other staff, District transport Officer Bhaben Deuri conducted the search operation Nonoipara Tea Garden along the Indo Bhutan border on October 8 and detected these gross violations of the p[rovisions of Central Motor Vehicle Act 1988.

District Transport Officer of Udalguri, Bhaben Deuri said that earlier he had requested the management of the Tea Garden to get all the tractors regularized by paying the prescribed fees. But as the management did not respond to his request, then as per the instruction of the district administration of Udalguri he carried out the search operation. However the tea garden management has been paying the necessary taxes but did not apply for permit, fitness and pollution control certificate added Deuri. On that day the district transport authority has seized all the documents of these defaulting vehicles and even seized two tractors, which were later handed over to the custody of Dimakuchi Police out post. Meanwhile he informed the matter to the Commissioner of Transport vide a letter on October 12 seeking instructions for carrying out further action.

Lipid profile tests for Guwahati scribes

9 Apr 2018 - 9:01am | Nava Thakuria

Guwahati: Assam’s well known Dispur Hospital organizes a free lipid profile tests for the journalist-members of Guwahati Press Club starting on Monday (9 April). The series of camp will continue for five days till Friday at the press club premises where 20 blood samples will be taken every day (from 12 noon to 1 pm).

It may be mentioned that the lipid profile (lipid panel) test includes various types of blood screenings to measure the level of cholesterol and triglycerides. The tests can identify certain genetic diseases and determine approximate risks for cardiovascular disease, certain forms of pancreatitis, and other related diseases.

In case the number of participants increases (even after screening on 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 April), the city based hospital will resume the screening of blood samples after Bohag Bihu holidays for few more days, informed Dr Jayanta Bardoloi, the managing director of Dispur Hospital adding that all the printed reports would be available at press club office after completion of the series.

Meanwhile, the newly launched Health City Hospital Guwahati conducted the last weekly media OPD clinic at Guwahati Press club on 7 April 2018, where Dr Brajen Lahkar (medicine) from the multi super-speciality hospital offered free consultations to over 30 participants.

The Saturday camp at press club has been organized under the series of ‘Evening with a Doctor’ programs, which was launched in August 2016, for the benefit of press club members along with their dependants. Nurses Sanjrambam Naobi Chanu and Joslyn Ramthermawi along with health workers Surajit Baruah, Aswique Iquball , Bhaskar Saikia, Kongkan Talukdar assisted the physician in the camp. Dr Atanu Barthakur, chief executive officer of the hospital and Manuj Kr Deka, project head also graced the camp.

Till date, the press club initiative has been supported by Apollo Hospitals (Chennai and Guwahati campus), SIMS Chennai Hospital, Manipal Hospital, Fortis Bangalore Hospital, Medanta-the Medicity Hospital, GNRC Hospitals, Down Town Hospitals, Barthakur Clinic, Ayursundra Hospital, Wintrobe Hospital, Nemcare Hospital, Sun Valley Hospital, Excelcare Hospital, Rahman Hospital, Narayana Super-Specialty Hospitals, Swagat Super-Surgical Institute, Sight First eye-clinic, MMC Panbazar etc.

CM attends ADBU Convocation

11 Sep 2016 - 5:36pm | Bikramjit Goswami

Assam Don Bosco University witnessed its fifth Convocation at its Azara campus on Saturday, the 10th of September 2016 at which Degrees were conferred on 648 students, of which 172 students received the degree of Bachelor of Technology, 31 Master of Technology, 54 Master of Social Work, 23 Master of Computer Applications, 37 Master of Business Administration, 10 MA in Psychological Counseling, 9 MA in Human Rights, 11 MA in Mass Communication, 11 MA in Education and 16 students received M.Sc. in Physics. A total of 267 students from around 37 countries graduated in various disciplines through Don Bosco Global centre of Online and Distance Education. Doctoral degrees were conferred to 7 scholars. From among those who received degrees for the campus programmes there are students from different states of the country - 231 from Assam, 72 from Meghalaya, 15 from Manipur, 14 from Nagaland, 13 from Arunachal Pradesh, 5 from Tripura, 5 from Mizoram, 10 from Kerala, 5 from West Bengal, 4 from Chattisgarh, 2 from Delhi and 1 each from Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa. There was also one student each from Maldives and Myanmar who received Masters Degree in Education during the convocation.

Gold Medals under various categories were awarded to 13 outstanding graduates with the highest Cumulative Grade Point Average in each program. The Chancellor’s medal has been awarded for outstanding performance during Post Graduation to Kangkana Barman of the department of social work and the Vice Chancellor’s medal has been awarded for outstanding performance during Graduation to Ankita Patowary of the department of Civil Engineering, for their notable and exceptional contributions to campus life.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, who was the Chief Guest for this dignified and prestigious event, in his address mentioned “Today is a great day for Assam Don Bosco University. The outstanding performers of the university have been felicitated and honoured, which is a great inspiration to all”. He also said “In the field of skill development, I believe Assam Don Bosco University can play a big role in the near future”. The chief minister said that whenever he visits a Don Bosco institution he always feels at home and is proud to call himself a Bosconian. He further mentioned that Assam is not a region of conflicts and problems, but is an area of potentialities, prosperity and possibilities.

Commencing the convocation ceremony, Salesian Provincial of Guwahati and Chancellor of ADBU, Fr. V.M. Thomas congratulated the graduates while emphasizing on importance of recognizing the purpose of life. In his address he mentioned how Don Bosco has been producing leaders over the years, and stated “Look at this young and dynamic leader sitting here, our Chief Minister. A past pupil of Don Bosco, Dibrugarh, who has made it big - dream come true for him and for us. Your close association with the Don Bosco Society is not only a matter of great pride for all of us, but also an inspiration for all the graduating Bosconians present here.  Shri Ranjit Das, Hon’ble Speaker of Assam, is also our past pupil from Don Bosco, Barpeta Road and so are many leaders of our state. Our dreams to produce leaders in the state are being increasingly realised day after day”. He concluded his speech saying, “Embrace the upcoming journey and know that this moment, right now, is a proof that everything will be amazing.  Carpe Diem! ”.

The Vice Chancellor Dr. (Fr.) Stephen Mavely began his address congratulating the graduates for their significant achievement. He emphasized, “At Assam Don Bosco University, our endeavor has been to bring together the theoretical and practical to fuel your minds and wills with a desire for research and experimentation, to keep on learning, and to equip you with the skills to do so”. While presenting the annual report the vice chancellor reiterated the immensely significant milestone achieved by the university, of inaugurating the new academic session at Tapesia Gardens for five Departments of the School of Social Sciences and three departments of the School of Life Sciences. He stated, “The campus at Tapesia is proving to be a gold mine for the University – apart from providing us with an enviable location for academic pursuits, it is slowly developing into a nerve centre for the development of the entire region around it, especially the 42 villages that surround the campus. The plantations, in the near future, will turn into demonstration farms and seed production centres for the National Boards, research avenues for the university into pest resistance, hybridization, and mass multiplication through tissue-culture, and an excellent training platform for our social outreach programmes in the villages.” He concluded wishing the students an abundance of God’s blessings and motivating them to grab every opportunity that comes their way.

Ankita Patowary, awarded double gold medal for securing highest CGPA in Civil Engineering and the  prestigious Vice chancellor’s medal expressed her gratitude towards the university for moulding her into a confident and dynamic individual and igniting the spark in her to achieve success in life. She mentioned “It fills my heart with immense pride when I remember that from this University I attended the 2015 Republic Day function in New Delhi as one of the 100 meritorious Indian students and sat alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modiji and the American President Barack Obama.”

Expressing happiness on graduation day, Fr. Jose Karipadam, who has been awarded the doctoral degree on this occasion expressed his profound gratitude to the university and stated “we have reached this far because of you and we wish to assure you that we will be there for you, through thick and thin. Let me conclude with the promise that knowledge has made us humble, and we shall carry it more in our heart than in the head. We shall adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles”.

Winner of Chancellor’s medal for outstanding contribution to campus life, Kangkana Barman in her valedictory speech mentioned how the university has motivated and encouraged her to recognize her uniqueness and allowed her to evolve and grow into a better individual over the years. She concluded saying, “Our promise to the staff and management of this University is that we will be your ambassadors of goodwill wherever we are; we will contribute wholeheartedly to all the plans envisaged for the alumni and will continue to be the flag bearers of this University.”

The University’s Azara campus was a scene of festivity, merriment and emotional moments with graduates celebrating their success.