Coir pith (organic) manure comes to Morni

The Coir Board has developed the technology to prepare organic manure from composted coir pith. Coir pith is a spongy waste product obtained during the extraction of coir fibre from the husk.The organic manure has excellent water retention capacity, is odourless and is rich in enzymes, nutrients and humus. It enhances aeration and improves the soil texture and enhances root penetration.Its a 100% environment friendly organic manure and is excellent for garden plants and horticulture crops.Farmers cultivating the rose plant in the green houses by the bank of river ghaggar at the foot of the Morni hills are experimenting with this manure from the South. The picture shows a consignment off-loaded by a truck at the Barisher turn waiting to be transported in jeeps to the greenhouses along the Ghaggar banks.

Coir pith manure

Green Houses along Ghaggar

India produces some 5.5 lac metric tonnes of coir pith every year and there is tremendous potential for growth in the use of this environment friendly manure.

Ban on Plastics in Morni

The Environment Department of the Haryana Government has, vide Notification No. 16/52/2010-Env. dated 3rd February 2010, banned the use of all types of plastic articles such as carry bags (irrespective of thickness and size), plates, cups, tumblers, spoons, forks and straw in Wild Life Sanctuaries and National Parks of Haryana and Gram Panchayat, Morni.It is pertinent to note that the ban in rest of the State is only with regard to plastic carrybags of thickness less than 40 microns or size less than 12″X 18″ as it is felt that plastic carry bags of lower thickness/smaller size do not have potential for further use and are littered about irresponsibly and have detrimental effect on the environment. The ban on plastic articles in Morni panchayat area and Wildlife Sanctuaries/National Parks is, however, complete as these areas have been considered to have special ecological significance. A large part of the Morni Hills fall under the Khol-Hi-Raitan Wildlife Sactuary.

Penalty:

  • The retailers, vendors and other establishments found to be violating these directions, relating to the use of plastic carry bags … shall be fined with such fine which shall not be less than Rs.2,500 and which may extended upto Rs. 5,000 for the first offence and the trade license of the violator shall be cancelled for the subsequent offence…
  • The individuals found to be littering public places with plastic bags shall be fined with such fine which shall not be less than Rs. 250 and which may extend upto Rs. 500 per offence.

Prescribed Authority (for enforcement):

The Divisional Forest Officer shall be prescribed authority for enforcement of the provisions of these directions in National Parks, Wild Life Sanctuaries etc.

The other prescribed authorities for enforcement include – District Magistrate, Additional District Magistrate,District Development and Panchayat Officer,Sub-Divisional Magistrate,Executive Engineer, Public Health Engineering Department, District Food and Supplies Controller,Block Development and Panchayat Officer,Tehsildar and Naib Tehsildar, Revenue Department.

Note: The notification is in exercise of the powers delegated under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), read with rule 4 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, notification S.O.152 (E) dated 10th February, 1988

 

Green India Mission (2012-23): Hope for Morni?

National Mission for a Green India (GIM) is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change i.e. our plan to adapt to the impact of the changes in climate and also to reduce the pace of climate change (global warming in simple terms). As world grows warmer the species shall migrate to northern (cooler) latitudes and higher altitudes. There shall be an increase in forest fires, pests, diseases, invasive species (weeds) and loss in biodiversity.  The mission aims at ‘greening’ of the country with emphasis on restoration of degraded eco-systems by encouraging native bio-diverse species. Local communities that are dependent on the forests for their livelihoods shall be involved in the management and their traditional knowledge of ecology shall be blended with modern techniques of forestry.

Forests act as ‘carbon-dioxide sinks’ and by reducing green house gases help keep the planet cool. Forests provide the organic mass for maintaining the fertility and water-retention capacity of soil and are vital for agriculture especially in heavy rainfall areas. They also provide food products to all forms of life that reside in the ecosystems formed by them. Forests provide fuel-wood, fodder, small timber,  NTFP and medicinal plants,  and artisanal  raw material like canes and bamboo to the local populations  dependent on them for livelihood.

Forest ecosystems are the source of a large number of rivers and rivulets and play an important, though not completely understood, role in maintaining the hydrological cycle. They help maintain the flow of water in rivers, the levels of sub-soil water and in recharging of aquifers. The rivers/rivulets having forested catchment areas have a more stable flow of better quality water. The 1000 hectare dense forest that forms the catchment area for the springs and streams that provide water to Shimla town was planted by the British in the early 20th century. Likewise, the forest cover in the catchment area of Nainital Lake was also the result of British foresight and industry.

The strategy for greening shall be the restoration of degraded open forests, grasslands, scrublands, wetlands, ravines, mangroves and other ecosystems. Urban spaces and parks, institutional lands, abandoned mining areas etc shall also be targeted. The overall target is to improve the green cover over 10 million hectares of land in 10 years (12th and 13th Five Year Plan period, 2012-13 to 2022-23). Indigenous, bio-diverse, fast growing species shall be encouraged over monoculture plantations that are vulnerable to pests and disease. Native palatable grasses and shrubs for fodder and nitrogen fixing legumes shall be seeded. Rotational/controlled grazing, fire management, pest control, invasive species eradication and controlling water run-off through check dams and contour trenches/terraces are the other key interventions.

The mission document makes a special mention of sea-buckthorn or the ‘Leh’ berry. The thorny shrub yields berries with high nutritional value (Vitamin C content is 15 times that of oranges) and can withstand extreme temperatures and drought. The shrub is being encouraged all over the Himalayas and the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research, Leh is the nodal agency for research and other support in this area. Bamboos, vetiver, asparagus, giloy, guggal, acacia etc also find mention. Support for the forest areas/ecosystems (Sacred Groves) conserved by communities (e.g. the Bishnois of Rajasthan) for religious and other reasons is also envisaged.

The mission aims at involving the community through a variety of institutions including panchayats, gram sabhas, joint forest management committees, self-help groups as well as through employment of educated local youths as community foresters. NGOs, schools, colleges, NCC, NSS etc shall be involved for community mobilization. The mission will be administered through an autonomous society created under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Government of India. The tentative cost is Rs. 46,000/- crores with Rs. 34,000/- crore for core activity and Rs. 12,000/- crores for support activities (capacity building, research, publicity etc). The mission is in its preparatory phase and the 50 page ‘Mission Document’ has been made available to the country on the MOEF website http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/GIM-Report-PMCCC.pdf for inviting suggestions.

Morni forests cover the fragile outer Shivalik hills and are exposed to landslides during monsoons and fires during summers. The lantana bush has wiped out all indigenous grass and shrub cover and fodder availability has declined sharply in the recent times. The bush has a shallow root system that is unable to bind soil and leads to landslides during the monsoon season. The bush forms dry thickets of scrub during summers and cause devastating forest fires. The fires destroy smaller wildlife living under the scrub including hares, foxes, pheasants, jungle fowls, partridges, francolins and monitor lizards. Poor moisture retention leads to early drying up of springs and ‘baolies’ and a drinking water crisis in most of the hamlets. Lantana bush is poisonous for the cattle and goats that may graze on it. The lantana berries, however, support the numerous bulbuls and bush birds that feed on them. The lantana flowers draw a variety of butterflies. Manual removal of lantana by the villagers under NREGA scheme has been suggested by the locals but the idea is yet to find support. Green India Mission may provide the necessary framework for this urgently needed intervention to restore the ecology and bio-diversity to the region. A recent positive development has been the use of Lantana stem in place of cane and bamboo for making baskets, furniture etc. Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE- http://www.atree.org/) , a Bangalore based  NGO, has done pioneering work in this area and has established Lantana Crafts Centres for training tribal forest dwellers to produce items from lantana stems. ATREE holds annual Lantana Crafts Mela at the MM Hills of Karnataka and the venture has received support from Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India limited (TRIFED) and NABARD. Introduction of such handicrafts in the Morni region can help locals augment their incomes and also provide the means to control the spread of lantana.

 

Stone dangahs/bunds and breast walls and drains are also needed in certain fragile areas that experience frequent landslides. Vetiver can be introduced to stabilize slopes that are experiencing heavy erosion due to rain water run-off. Urgent works are needed to undo extensive damage following unprecedented rains in 2010.

Hill slope after landslide, Gajan, Bhoj Balag

 

Damaged foundations of bridge, Morni-Raipur Rani road

Mud slip, Morni-Tikkar Tal Road

Stone masonery protection dangahs, Morni-Raipur rani road

The forest fire-fighting capabilities also need serious augmentation.

The Morni Forest

Morni Reserved Forest

The forest of Morni was granted as a jagir to Mir Jafar Ali of Kotaha by the British in 1816 in recognition of the services rendered during the war against the Gurkhas. Thereafter, the Morni ‘ilaqa’ continued to be owned by the descendants of Mir Jafar Ali till 1968 when the Haryana Government started the acquisition of the forest land under the Land Acquisition Act. The acquired forest lands were then notified as ‘Protected Forests’ under the provisions of the Indian Forests Act, 1927. By June, 1972 the entire Morni forest area of 50807 acres had been acquired and notified as a ‘Protected Forest’. Subsequently, the Protected Forest was declared as a ‘Reserved Forest’ through a notification by the State Government in December, 1987.

Reserved Forests‘ differ from ‘Protected Forests‘ in the important aspect that rights to all activities like hunting, grazing, collection of fire wood etc are banned in case of Reserved Forests unless specific orders are issued otherwise by the Forest Settlement Officer. In case of Protected Forests such rights are sometimes allowed to communities living on the fringes of the forest who sustain their livelihood partially or wholly from forest resources or products.

The table below gives the ‘bhoj-wise’ distribution of the reserved forest area.

Area   under Morni Reserved Forest

S.No.

Bhoj

Had   Bast No.

Area   in acres

1

Dharara

321

985

2

Kothi

323

1111

3

Naita

319

1253

4

Tipra

320

1593

5

Balag

325

2138

6

Jabial

324

2165

7

Dharti

318

2398

8

Koti

322

2669

9

Kudana

314

3483

10

Paonta

315

4506

11

Plasra

316

4850

12

Mataur

317

5643

13

Naggal

326

8173

14

Rajpur

313

9840

Total

50807

Morni Reserve Forest

Morni Reserve Forest

The table below gives the Classification of the Morni forest into different forest types: –

Classification of Morni Forests Area
S.No. Classification   Type Hectares Acres
                     Subtropical Pine Forests
i Shivalik Chir Pine   Forest 2683.85 6632
            Northern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests
i Northern Dry Mixed   Deciduous Forests 10111.6 24986
ii Dry Deciduous Scrub –   Degradation stage 6201.9 15325
iii Dry Bamboo   brakes 1694.84 4188
Total area 20692.19 51131
Classification of Morni forests

Classification of Morni forests

The British authorities at Ambala had originally mooted the idea of declaring the forests in the Morni tract as a reserve forest in 1888. An extract of the report prepared by the British on the forests of Morni was included in the Ambala District Gazetteer (1892-93). It makes an interesting reading and has a detailed list of trees growing in the Morni forests. The same has been reproduced here:

‘In 1888 a proposal was made to constitute a reserved forest in the Morni tract in the interests partly of Government and partly of the Mir of Kotaha. Government was interested in the scheme in view of the protection of the hill sides from denudation, while it was suggested that the Mir, as the principal right-holder in the Morni jungles, would benefit by reservation in a large increase to the value of the forest products. In the report on the scheme submitted in October 1888 it was noticed that the existing forest growth, which is very dense in the higher ranges, is composed of miscellaneous scrub intermixed in the upper portions with Chil (Pinus longifolia) and Chal (Conocarpus latifolia). Lower down in the valleys the scrub is chiefly mingled with Sandan (Ougeinia dalbergioides), Siris (Albizzia Stipulata), Sein (Pentaptera Tomentosa), Papri (Ulmus integrifolia), Kachnar (Bauhinia variegata), Khair (Acacia catechu), Biul (Grewia oppositifolia), Jingan (Odina wodier), Aamla (Phyllanthus emblica), Amaltas (Cassia fistula), Sohanjna (Moringa pterygosperma) and Bael (Aegle marmelos).

There are no compact forests of chil but a fair number of these trees are found on the morni range (east of Morni) and on the Nangal and Tipra kothi ranges in particular. The trees are large and well grown in Bhoj Naggal below Tandok, while those on the Morni range are crooked and ill-formed, most probably in consequence of constant fires. Natural reproduction of chil is excellent, and all that can be desired in places that have escaped fire.

Low down in the valleys there are many fine Jaman (Eugenia jambolana), Mahwa (Bassia latifolia), Bahera (Terminalia bellerica), Tun and Harrar trees. Large numbers of the latter grow in the cultivated fields of Bhoj Naggal, and yield a fair revenue of which the zamindars have hitherto taken by far the larger share. Creepers are running rampant, and doing much harm, especially the Maljun (Bauhinia vahill).

The Sal tree (Shorea robusta) is found nowhere in these hills and it is exceedingly doubtful whether it could be introduced. The attempt was recently made to raise trees from seed obtained from Pilibhit. This was a complete failure, as was only to be expected, owing to the well-known difficulty in transporting sal seed from a long distance. Under any circumstances the limit of the sal tree is practically a few miles west of the Jamna. In the working plans of the Dehra Dun Forests it is prominently noticed that sal cannot be grown further to the west on account of the excessive heat and dryness of the Punjab portion of the Sub-Himalayan range.

As regards the benefits arising to Government from a strict reservation it appeared likely that if it should be found practicable to close the low hills absolutely both from fire and grazing, a very marked improvement would take place rapidly leading eventually to diminution in the force of the hill streams. Rich lands in the plains would be protected from erosion, and Government would be saved heavy losses on account of land revenue remissions, and risk of damage to important lines of road and railway. Apparently this was the limit of the direct interest of Government in the scheme, and this interest applied to the lower hills only and not to the whole tract. Further good would be done indirectly by way of example in the event of any scheme, however small, being carried out successfully, but while the cost of trouble of reservation would fall on the Mir he would, in the low hills at least, realise but a small portion of the ultimate gain. The scrub jungle which would grow over these hills would be invaluable as a protective covering, but would not be in itself a source of much revenue. Extension of cultivation would have to be forbidden absolutely, while even a moderate interference with existing rights of free grazing would meet with determined opposition from the people on whom the Mir depends for his revenue. Under these circumstances it seemed doubtful whether the Mir should be encouraged to undertake the closure of the low hills as a source of gain to himself. The case was altered if Government was willing to undertake the whole or part of the expense on its own account, but if Government was prepared to take direct action at all, it might do so more profitably in other parts of the range, where there has been greater denudation.

As regards the higher ranges of Morni and Tipra, Government was not directly interested in the reservation scheme, except in so far as it would afford some guarantee against wasteful management in the event of the tract passing into inefficient hands. For protective purposes nothing could be better than the existing growth of dense scrub jungle covering nearly all the higher spurs. A careful examination of these hills showed that there is practically no erosion. There are occasional landslips, but even these are obviously due to natural defects in the hill conformation and not to the undermining action of extensive torrents. The entire absence of drift wood along the beds of the streams within the hills, the moderate dimensions of their channels, the permanence of the terraced cultivation on even the steepest slopes, and the general depth and excellence of the soil are all alike evidence that no more effectual measures are required with a view to check the rush and volume of flood water. No clear instance of extensive damage was detected which could be directly traced to insufficient afforestation in these higher ranges. The volume of water carried down from these high hills must necessarily be large but would not be appreciably lessened by stricter measures of protection than those already in force. It was noticed in every direction that it was not until the streams passed within the low ranges of the outer hills that they assumed the character of sand torrents causing so much destruction in the plains. The explanation seemed to be that the injury is due much more to the geological structure of these low hills than to the actual amount of flood water brought down to them from above.

The conclusion arrived at was that no large outlay on the forest would bring in any adequate return. The country is so rugged, and the scrub growth so dense that the cost of planting operations would be prohibitive. This conclusion was accepted after some discussion and Government eventually abandoned the reservation scheme in July 1890.

The suggestions made for the improvement of the property, which could be carried out by the Mir independently of procedure under the Forest Act, noticed the advisability of systematic creeper cutting; of encouraging the more extensive growth of the Harrar tree (Terminalia chebula) for the sake of Myrobalan fruit; of bamboo planting; of protection from fires by the appointment of fire guards, and by stopping the practice of firing the trunks of chil trees to extract the resin; and, lastly, of opening out the property by cutting small paths to improve communications. The following is a list of the more important trees growing in the Morni jungles: —

Used for building purposes and agricultural implements.

  1. Khair—Acacia catechu.
  2. Chal—Conocarpus latifolis
  3. Sein —Pentaptera tomentosa
  4. Shisham—Dalbergia sissoo
  5. Sandan— Ougeinia dalbeigioides
  6. Tun—Cedrela toona.

Used for building purposes.

  1. Chil— Pinus longifolia
  2. Jaman—-Eugenia jambolana
  3. Mahwa— Bassia latifolia
  4. Pipal—Ficus religiosa
  5. Papri—Ulmus integrifolia
  6. Padul—Stereospermum suaveolens
  7. Pula—Kydia calycina
  8. Kakker – Pistachia integerrina

Used for building purposes and also lopped for fodder.

  1. Bor — Ficus bengalensis
  2. Bahera—Terminalis bellerica
  3. Ber—Zizyphus jujuba
  4. Dhak—Butea frondosa
  5. Siran —Albizzia stipulata
  6. Biul—Grewia oppositifolia
  7. Jigan—Odina wodier

Lopped for fodder, but not used as timber.

  1. Kachnar- Bauhinia variegata
  2. Kendu— Diospyros montana
  3. Keim—Stephegyne parvifolis
  4. Dhamin—Grewia tiliaefolia
  5. Lasora—Cordia myxa
  6. Karaunda—Carissa diffusa
  7. Maljan—Bauhinia vahill
  8. Mdlkangni—Celastrus senegalensis

Miscellaneous trees.

  1. Harrer- Terminalia chebula
  2. Aamla— Phyllanthus emblica
  3. Bael—Aegle marmelos
  4. Chilla—Casearia tomentosa
  5. Keint—Pyrus variolosa
  6. Sohanjna— Moringa pterygosperma.
  7. Simmal—Bombax malabaricum.
  8. Amaltas—Cassia fistula
  9. Kamala—Mallotus philippinensis
  10. Tejbal— Zanthoxylum hostile
  11. Har singhar — Nyctanthes arbor-tristis
  12. Dhai-phul—Woodfordia floribunda.’

‘Windmills’ of Morni: Generating Clean Power


Solar Technologies set up a 10.2 KW hybrid renewable electric power system at Chakli and Ramsar villages in Morni in partnership with the Government of India. The system consists of two wind turbines that provide 6.6 KW of wind power and solar panels that generate 3.6 kw of solar power. The project was completed in July 2008 and was designed to provide power to 25 households. Each household gets power for two bulbs and a fan. Chakli and Ramsar villages were chosen as the sight has a commanding 360 degrees view and is suitable for setting up of the turbines as well as the solar panels. The villages lie at the tail end of the power transmission system and were getting intermittent power supply with voltage fluctuation. Mr. Timothy D Clark of Ananda Solar Technologies gives an interesting account of his seven week stay at Morni and the experience of setting up the turbines with local resources after transporting the raw materials on mules!See <www.ananda.org/ananda/village/villager/archives/pdf/2008-07-0

You Tube Video:watch?v=YPjD9CL0Oog

Pheasant breeding centre, Morni

Pheasants are fascinating birds, known for their brilliant plumage and elaborate courtship displays. Whether it is a Khaly pheasant or red jungle fowl, the white peacock or the normal , each is a delight to behold. These beautiful birds also occupy an imprtant niche in nature’s great scheme.

Peafowls are the best known members of pheasant family and occupy a prominent place in the Indian lore. At one time these hills were home not only to the exquisite mors and mornis but to many other worthy members of the pheasant family. And even now one can see them .

At the red fort at Morni, the Haryana Wild Life Department has assembled a superb collection of these feathered monarchs: red jungle fowl, chir pheasant, khaly pheasant, chukor, bantam and domestic fowls. The fort has been converted into a restricted area under the Haryana Wild life Department and it is here that a painstaking experiment is under way, pheasant breeding1.

The mother pheasants are not great home-makers. A simple scrape in the ground is good enough for their egg-laying . So, the mongoose, snake, monkey, jungle cat and monitor lizard make such holes. The number of pheasants should increase at the rate of 100 per year. But this is not so and it speaks volume for the high mortality rate of pheasant chicks. But even when bred in captivity and protected from prowling carnivores, the chicks have plenty of dangers to face.

The family phasianidae includes pheasants, partridges and quails. For centuries they have been game birds that have provided entertainment and food to man. Their bill is a bit like the parrot’s; thick and short with the upper beak overhanging to lower one. They are not fussy eaters, seeds, tender shoots, grains, fruits and insects. They fly swiftly but only for a short distance.

The chikor prefers to rocky sides with grass and sparse bushes, and feed on grains, vegetables, leaves and grass. Another nature of this region is the chir pheasant. It stays nearer the plains than the chikor preferring altitudes of 1,500 to 2, 700 metres. The birds of breeding centre enjoy healthy diet of leaves, grass, grains, berries and poultry feed.

Source:

Reproduced from the Haryana State Gazetteer

Khol Hai Raitan Wildlife Sanctuary, Morni

Khol Hai Raitan Wildlife Sanctuary is being established over an area of 4883 hectares and notice was issued on 28th July 2011 to invite objections/suggestions to the draft notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The sanctuary includes the forest covered Shivalik hills bound by NH-73  to the West, Morni-Jallah road to the North, Mandana to the East and TBRL/village plains to the South.  This is roughly the entire hill region to the west of Mandana and includes well forested area with virtually no human habitation beyond Berwala when heading towards Mandana.

The area forms the habitat of the leopard,cheetal, sambar,langur, hyaena, fox, jackal,mongoose, porcupine etc. An area of 1 KM around the sanctuary shall form the eco-sensitive zone and shall have restrictions on change in land use etc.

At 52000 hectares, the Corbett National Park is nearly 10 times the combined size of Khol Hai Raitan and Bir Shikargarh Wildlife Sanctuaries!

Khol Hai Raitan WLS

Khol Hai Raitan WLS Morni

 

Khol Hai Raitan WLS Draft Notification I

 

Khol Hai Raitan WLS Draft Notification II

 

Khol Hai Raitan WLS Draft Notification III

 

Khol Hai Raitan WLS Draft Notification IV

Khol Hai Raitan WLS Draft Notification V

Khol Hai Raitan WLS Eco-sensitive zone