Showing posts with label Arunachal Pradesh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arunachal Pradesh. Show all posts
24 September 2014

Ziro To Music Haven, in 4 Days

Sleepy Arunachal town wakes up to fest from tomorrow
The Vinyl Records performs at Ziro Music Festival last year. Picture by Shiv Ahuja
Itanagar, Sep 24 : The quiet Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh will come alive with the sound of non-stop music from Thursday.
Located in the heart of Lower Subansiri district and surrounded by rolling green hills, Ziro valley is home to men and women of the Apatani tribe and attracts a number of tourists. From Thursday, the number of visitors to the sleepy town will swell as the third edition of the Ziro Festival of Music kicks off.
In a span of just two years, the festival has become the mainstay of India’s ever-expanding festival circuit. With an eclectic collection of folk, Indie and electro-rock artistes performing against the backdrop of the picturesque valley, it’s not difficult to imagine why.
Festival co-founder Anup Kutty attributes the event’s success to the location, the people and the artistes. “It’s a potent combination of all three,” he said.
The festival was started after Anup and his bandmates from Menwhopause were touring the Northeast and festival director Bobby Hano took them to Ziro for a break. One thing led to another and in 2012 the first festival was organised. Even with showers making the venue ground slushy, it created a buzz across the country. By 2013, the festival had gone global.
Last year, American artistes Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley of the erstwhile Sonic Youth headlined the festival and this year, a reunited Indus Creed will bring down the curtains on Sunday. Such is the lure of the festival that singer Uday Benegal is returning with the troupe many feel is India’s first rock band.
Benegal, who was at last year’s event as part of the Whirling Kalapas, says the “valley is a fabulous piece of earth” and that he is “kicked about going back”.
Apart from Indus Creed, this year will feature a host of big names like Ska Vengers and Your Chin. Additionally, the third edition has the largest line-up of folk artistes and musicians from the Northeast. With the likes of the Nagaland-based Tetseo Sisters making their first appearance at the festival and Manipur band Imphal Talkies set to return, music lovers are in for a treat. With close to 30 bands set to perform, little wonder that the festival had to be extended by a day.
Anup says that “three days just didn’t seem enough” and we “decided to keep the first day free for the people of Ziro as a tribute to the wonderful place”.
Aside from the support of the people, this year Living Dreams, an Arunachal-based trust that documents and promotes local culture and Pepsi MTV Indies, will support the festival. Among its long list of supporters is the Arunachal government. Last year, tourism minister Pema Khandu said he was “very pleased with the overwhelmingly stunning response” and made a call to make the festival the “Woodstock of the East”.

Protests in Itanagar Over Leak Of State Civil Service Paper

Itanagar, Sep 24 : Hundreds of candidates appearing for the Arunachal Pradesh civil service exams staged a protest here Tuesday demanding an inquiry into the alleged leak of a question paper for the main examination.

According to students, the General Studies-2 question paper was a copy of the extra set of question paper prepared for 2011 mains exam and was already with many students.

"Firstly the set of question paper was a ditto copy of General Studies Paper-2 of 2011 and secondly the said question paper was already in circulation and possessed by some candidates since Nov-Dec 2013," Oyam Saring, a candidate told IANS.

Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission prepares 2 sets of question papers to meet any eventuality.

Earlier the students had protested outside Chief Minister Nabam Tuki's official residence following which the commission had postponed the exam until further notice.

"The candidates are shocked how the question paper which is kept in a secured room came into the hands of some candidates. The officials have also shown their laziness by copy pasting questions from the extra paper of 2011 exam," Saring said.
23 September 2014

By November, Rajdhani Express to Reach Arunachal Pradesh


Indian Railways is set to kick off the Rajdhani Express between Arunachal Pradesh and New Delhi by November.
Indian Railways is set to kick off the Rajdhani Express between Arunachal Pradesh and New Delhi by November.
New Delhi, Sep 23 : Arunachal Pradesh agrees to relax the rigid norm of inner-line permit for passengers with reserved tickets.
The Indian Railways is set to kick off the Rajdhani Express between Arunachal Pradesh and New Delhi by November. To make travel more passenger-friendly, Arunachal has agreed to relax the rigid norm of inner-line permit, which is otherwise mandatory for “outsiders” entering the state.

After a series of meetings at the Prime Minister’s Office between Railways and state officials, as well as correspondence between the state’s Chief Secretary and the Railway Board recently, it was decided that passengers who have made a reservation will not require the permit.

The Railways had reasoned that details of the identity of a passenger with a reserved ticket are entered into the railway system at the time of booking, and are verified when they board.

“The state has agreed that as long as a passenger holds a reserved ticket, inner-line permit is not required,” Devi Prasad Pande, Member-Traffic, Railway Board, told The Indian Express.

The Rajdhani Express to Naharlagun, 15 km from the state capital of Arunachal Pradesh, will run twice a week to and from Delhi. Another AC-only express train linking Guwahati to the Capital is also on the cards. In both categories of trains, unreserved tickets are not issued.

The problem of running trains with general class coaches, in which passengers can travel with unreserved tickets, is still being discussed.

The two sides have discussed the possibility of creating a ‘holding area’, where credentials of passengers with unreserved tickets can be verified and state officials can issue inner-line permits to them .

Ever since the 33-km railway line between Harmuti in Assam and Naharlagun — the last stage in the Rajdhani project which will connect Arunachal with the rest of the country — neared completion earlier this year, local groups have stepped up protests against the prospect of outsiders inundating the state.

“How does a reserved ticket meet the requirements of the inner-line permit? The permit system was introduced as per a law which still exists to protect locals from exploitation. What is the problem in procuring a permit before boarding the train? I don’t think the new arrangement will be acceptable,” said Ninong Ering, Congress MP from Arunachal East Lok Sabha constituency.

Ering was referring to The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and the Chin Hill Regulations, 1896, which are meant to provide special protection and safeguard the “peaceful existence of the indigenous tribal people” in Arunachal.
03 September 2014

1800km strategic road project on China border put on fast track

The Centre has decided to put the construction of 1800km long strategic road in Arunachal Pradesh on fast track.

The most ambitious strategic border road project till date will join Tawang the western most point in Arunachal Pradesh with the easternmost point of Vijaynagar via Bomdila. The project cost is expected to run close to Rs 25,000 crore.

Overlooking Chinese position along the Himalayan ridge close to the McMahon line the project was envisaged during UPA II regime in 2005, but was hanging fire due to several glitches, including environmental clearances and monetary constraints.

The decision to put the project on fast track came at a meeting held by the junior minister in the home ministry, Kiren Rijiju. Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag, DG Border Road Organisation and top officials of ministry of environment and forests and road surface transport were also present at the meeting.

The Chinese have already built excellent infrastructure all along the McMahon line putting them in highly advantageous position against Indian interests.

Sources said that the BRO has been asked to get serious about the project or else the project could be opened for the private players.

The ministry of environment and forests has also been asked to get clearances in advance and remove glitches.

"The project is essential for us to connect our far flung and remote villages. We want this project to be completed during the five year tenure of our government," MoS (home) Kiren Rijiju said.
27 August 2014

Fake Reporter Promises Petrol Pump, Dupes MLA From Arunachal

By Vishnu Sukumaran

New Delhi, Aug 27 : An MLA from Arunachal Pradesh was duped of Rs 25 lakh after a man claiming to be a journalist promised to get a petrol pump and  gas agency set up for him in his constituency.

Congress legislator Rajesh Tacho holds the Anini seat in the remote Dibang valley.A case of cheating under Indian Penal Code was filed by Delhi Police after the MLA's wife Andre Keche filed a complaint, police said.

Andre told police that due to the absence of any petrol pumps in the entire district, the MLA was taking steps for the people of his constituency.

She identified the mastermind of the fraud as Ashu Kumar, a resident of south Delhi’s Mahipalpur Extension.

Ashu met the politician at Arunachal Bhawan in south Delhi’s Chanakyapuri in 2013, introducing himself as a journalist with The Times of India. He claimed that he covered Parliament and had strong links with senior officers in the Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry.

“Ashu said he would provide everything for setting up a petrol pump and gas agency at Anini and for that he demanded an initial payment of Rs 5 lakh,” Andre told police.This was given to him in July 2013.

Ashu later demanded more money and the politician paid Rs 5 lakh in August 2013 and Rs 10 lakh in November 2013. He visited Anini twice to survey the promised set up along with a man named Arun Pandey, who claimed to be an employee of the Land Division of the Petroleum Ministry.

The MLA paid more cash which Ashu said was required for a licence and other expenses.

The politician also provided air tickets for Ashu and Arun’s journey to Arunachal Pradesh.

“However, Ashu did not set up any petrol pump or gas agency, and has been untraceable. We have Ashu and Arun’s mobile phone numbers and photographs, and are working on leads to nab them,” a police officer said..

New Butterfly Species Found in Arunachal Pradesh

New butterfly species found in Arunachal Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh is known as a treasure trove of nature, where one after another, new fish and butterfly species have been found in recent years.

Itanagar, Aug 26 : Arunachal Pradesh is known as a treasure trove of nature, where one after another, new fish and butterfly species have been found in recent years.

Now, nature lover Dr Tage Kano has announced the discovery of a new butterfly species after detecting the spectacular-winged beauty in the deep woods of Ziro on Saturday evening.

The discovery of the Kaiser-e-Hind (Teinoplaspus imperialis), photographed live for the first time in India by Dr Kano during a Butterfly Meet organized by NgunuZiro at Ziro, amounts to creating history.

"This species though photographed in Vietnam and Thailand, has never been photographed live in India. A dead specimen was photographed in Sikkim and half-dead one in Manipur. It is only now that for the first time a live Kaiser-e-Hind has been photographed in Arunachal Pradesh, Dr. Kano claimed.

Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, who participated in the Butterfly Meet as an expert, described it as a historic event. He further said that this species was very common and locally found in Cherrapunji 60 years back, but was no longer seen there due to habitat loss and export of the specimen for business purposes by the experts. The specimen was common a hundred years ago in Manipur, he added.

NgunuZiro, a community-based organization working for sustainable development of the area, has been promoting and encouraging responsible tourism at Ziro.

It organized the maiden two-day Butterfly Meet from Aug.23 last to create environmental awareness and love for flora and fauna, said its chairman, Hibu Tatu.

Arunachal boasts of giving many unique species to the global butterfly lovers, according to noted photographer and NVSEWC convenor Arif Siddiqui.

The maiden first five-day Butterfly India Meet (BIM), first in entire North East India, was conducted at Kovin village near Jairampur in Changlang District by Namchik Valley Society for Eco-tourism and Wildlife Conservation (NSEWC) with Butterfly India Group in Aug. 2006.

Butterfly lovers from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Assam had identified around 100 species of butterfly and 200 species of moths, including some rare ones, during the meet, said Siddiqui.

In 2006, a rare Damsel Fly was also spotted by one Praveen Kumar of Bangalore in Rima area. The Rhinocypha Damsel Fly was not in Indian checklist till then.

Over 200 species were identified at Jairampur in 2006 of the estimated 500 species of butterflies found in the state. Over 18,000 butterflies have been recorded in the world, around 1,800 in India.

During the Second BIM conducted at Miao in Changlang district in Sept 2010, Nonsuch Palmer, a very rare find was photographed by Siddique, which is the only photographic record in last 100 years. The other is a specimen in British Museum. On a single day, 27 butterfly lovers from all over the country had sighted around 125 species.

As many as six new species of fish — five by GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Studies, Arunachal Pradesh branch and one by Rajiv Gandhi University researchers — found in this Himalayan state in the recent years have been zoologically certified.

In fact, Arunachal, one of the eight biodiversity hotspots of the world having over 82 per cent forest cover of its total 83,743 square kilometer area, is yet to be surveyed. Once it is surveyed who knows what surprise the Mother Nature has for the entire global community!
04 August 2014

People's Party of Arunachal demands increase in retirement age

People's Party of Arunachal demands increase in retirement age

Itanagar, Aug 4 : The People's Party of Arunachal (PPA) has urged the state government to increase retirement age of state government employees from 58 years to 60 effective from this financial year.

"Majority of the states follow the Central government norm of 60 years as the retirement age. The Seventh Pay Commission has proposed to increase the retirement age to 62 years. It is unfortunate and surprising that Arunachal Pradesh is still at the stage of discussion on the matter," T Naksang, PPA general secretary, said.

He also said the increase in retirement age would enable the government to reap the benefits of rich experience as well as the productivity of the employees.

Due to increase of retirement age, he said, huge pension money payable to the employees would be saved for two years in a huge benefit to the state exchequer.

Naksang said that the argument that increase in retirement age would lead to cut in employment opportunities and create a burden on state exchequer was also not fully true.
24 July 2014

Aircel 3G Services Launched in Arunachal Pradesh

Aircel 3G services launched in Arunachal Pradesh Aircel has announced launching of its 3G services in Itanagar and Naharlagun which the customers can avail on their mobile phones or via Aircel 3G dongles.

Itanagar, Jul 24 : Aircel, a leading telecom operator, has announced launching of its 3G services in Itanagar and Naharlagun which the customers can avail on their mobile phones or via Aircel 3G dongles.

"Being one of the market leaders, we aim to increase 3G penetration and adoption in the region by re-defining user experience," Nilaj Mahalanavis, circle business head (north east) said yesterday while launching the service.

"As part of its services, Aircel has launched a new offer '3G Good Morning' where customers will get unlimited data free and browse up to 100 MB with 3G data speed daily between 4am to 8 am", Mahalanavis said. He also said that for customers in Itanagar and Naharlagun who have high data usage, the company is offering dongle plan with 4GB data which will be available at just Rs 1,495.

In addition, there are wide ranges of 3G plan starting at Rs 8 to choose from.

"Aircel is one of the market leaders in Northeast and it gives us immense delight to expand our 3G footprint in the region," Mahalanavis said.

He further went to say, " In 3G, Aircel has registered high growth in NE as its 3G subscriber base grew by 37% in 2013 while 3G data revenue increased by 200%. With the launch of 3G services in Itanagar and Naharlagun, we will provide our customers fast and seamless data connectivity at their fingertips 24X7."

Recently, Aircel launched some innovative 3G products in North East like video calling and unified data tariffs, Mahalanvis added.
08 July 2014

Chasing Away The Spirits


iol travel juy 7 india
The Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, home to Tawang village, sits between Burma and Bhutan and below Tibet.
New Delhi - A quiet Himalayan mountain village springs to life for a colourful Tibetan-style Buddhist festival designed to expel evil spirits and bring happiness.
The annual Torgya Festival in Tawang, in north-eastern India, is full of colourful dancing, music and theatre.
The three-day festival is held in the courtyard of the Tawang monastery, which is nestled on top of the hill overlooking the town.
The vibrant event was attended by Australian photographers Stephen Axford and Catherine Marciniak.
“There is nowhere on the planet as rich in ancient cultures as north-east India,” says Stephen, 62, of Melbourne. “We woke to the sound of a drum echoing through the landscape, before joining local villagers and pilgrims.”
Guests at the festival, which took place on January 29, 30 and 31, gather in the main square of the monastery wearing their finest clothes.
iol travel july 7 india2
The three-day festival is held in the courtyard of the Tawang monastery, which is nestled on top of the hill overlooking the town.
Monks dressed in colourful robes and traditional Buddhist masks carry out performances that involve chanting, dancing and acting.
There were markets selling everything from food to textiles, and cheap Chinese toy guns bought by doting parents for young sons who were studying to become monks, explains Steve.
“The whole festival attracts people from many miles around. Some people will walk for many days to get there and come from as far away as Tibet and Bhutan.
“Over the course of the three days, the music, dancing and chanting combine to chase out evil spirits, help the crops thrive, and usher in prosperity and happiness for the people.”
The Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, home to Tawang village, sits between Burma and Bhutan and below Tibet.
Stephen says:
“We spent three days there and were never bored once.”
30 June 2014

Arunachal CM urges Centre to reopen road linking India to China and Burma

By Manoj Anand

Stilwell Road (Photo Courtesy: gokumming.com) Stilwell Road (Photo Courtesy: gokumming.com)

Guwahati, Jul 30 :
In what may change the face of landlocked border states of India’s Northeast, most of the region’s Chief Ministers have urged the Centre to reopen the historic Stilwell Road, linking India to China and Burma by land.

The historic road was built in 1942 by the Allied forces for swift passage of British and American armies during World War II. While there have been several attempts to reopen the road, the home ministry has always rejected it on the grounds of security. The bureaucracy fears revival of the road link may help rebel groups operating from Burma.

The long-pending demand was revived once again this weekend by Arunachal Pradesh CM Nabam Tuki, who urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revive the Stilwell Road, and open Indo-Bhutan trade through Tawang. Direct trade with Bhutan will help Arunachal Pradesh to tide over its perennial hardships due to blockades and agitations in Assam. The other northeastern states are forced to depend almost wholly on Assam for all links to the rest of India.

Mr Tuki told the PM that building a road from Lumla in Tawang to Tashigang in Bhutan will not only provide an alternate route for the people of Tawang to reach Guwahati and other parts of India, it will also facilitate tourism and other activities between the two countries.

Mr Tuki also urged opening of the Pangsau Pass to boost Indo-Burma trade. The 1,700-km-long Stilwell Road links three countries: about 1,000 km falls in Burma, 630 km in China and only 62 km in India.
It was named after American Gen. Joseph Warren Stilwell, who played a stellar role in the China-Burma-India region, on the suggestion of China’s President Chiang Kaishek.

It established communication between Chinese forces and US-British forces when the Japanese Imperial Navy was blocking all marine supply chains. Despite opposition from Winston Churchill and others over its heavt cost, General Stilwell persuaded the government to release funds. The road begins at Ledo in Upper Assam?s Tinsukia district. Most of the existing stretch is serviceable and only 160 km in Mynamar needs to be renovated.
23 June 2014

NCC Planning Academy in Arunachal Pradesh

Itanagar, Jun 23 : The National Cadets Corps (NCC) is planning to open an academy in Arunachal Pradesh and raise a new battalion in the Tawang district of the state bordering China.

NCC Tezur-based Group Commander Brigadier N K Dabas announced this during a meeting on Friday with Chief Minister Nabam Tuki while briefing the latter about various activities being carried out by NCC in the state.

Dabas informed Tuki that NCC has plan to upgrade the 22(I) Coy at Pasighat to a full-fledged battalion and raise separate group headquarters for Arunachal Pradesh to bring more youths of the state under its fold.

He also said that all the battalions with about 3400 cadets would be upgraded to seven companies and 24 troops.

He was accompanied by Col S A Patil, commanding officer of Naharlagun based battalion, the release said.

NCC planning academy in Arunachal Pradesh
Dabas informed Tuki that NCC has plan to upgrade the 22(I) Coy at Pasighat to a full-fledged battalion and raise separate group headquarters for Arunachal Pradesh.
Earlier, Dabas visited the Naharlagun battalion and met the army staff, ANOs and cadets. He informed them about latest developments in NCC.

He also held a brain-storming session with the staff and ANOs to work out future strategy for NCC activity in the state, the release added.
20 June 2014

Govt Plans Rs 5,000 crore budget push for villages along China border


Govt plans Rs 5,000 crore budget push for villages along China border
The government is also concerned at lack of internet and telephone connectivity in more than 3,600 villages in Arunachal Pradesh.

NEW DELHI : In order to stem the "thinning out of population" along the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh, the government is likely to propose an additional allocation of Rs 5,000 crore in the Union budget for resettlement and rehabilitation of population in about 100 villages situated on the sensitive border.

TOI had on Thursday reported a communique from governor, Lt Gen (retd) Nirbhay Sharma to the prime minister's office raising a security concern and seeking the PM's intervention to relook at the government's rehabilitation policy along the Sino-Indian border.

Warning the government of a serious long-term security implication due to the thinning out of population, Sharma had said unless the issue was addressed urgently, a "gradual assimilation of our area by China is along the cards, on the lines already witnessed in north Myanmar".





Sources said the Centre has already put on fast track completion of projects worth Rs 28,000 crore which were sanctioned during the UPA-1 regime but had a very tardy progress. As part of PM's special economic package, UPA had in 2008 allocated Rs 37,000 crore for development of infrastructure in the region. Some of these projects were held up for environmental clearance and other administrative reasons and need "renewed impetus".

The Rs 28,000 crore worth of projects included 4,100 km of roads, including the 1,800 km trans-Arunachal highway, border outposts, schools, hospitals and electrification of villages to encourage human settlements closer to the LAC, sources in the home ministry said.

"The Rs 5,000 crore additional package is meant to incentivise the people, who had abandoned their settlements closer to the border, to relocate to more accessible areas," a senior home ministry official pointed out.

The government is also concerned at lack of internet and telephone connectivity in more than 3,600 villages in Arunachal Pradesh and has put them on its priority list to increase the tele-density and digital penetration in at least 13 bordering districts of the state.

After a recent security review along the LAC, the prime minister's office was apprised of an urgent need to provide tele and internet connectivity along the LAC. The move is considered important for security and disaster management purposes as most of the district headquarters at present are not connected by reliable tele-network.

All these 3,683 earmarked villages in the bordering districts will be provided with tele-connctivity either through village public telephone or digital satellite phone terminals. The government is also considering upgradation of existing television and radio stations in the state to reach out to the border and beyond into Tibet, north Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The government favours a soft cultural entry into neighbouring countries with Bollywood leading the way. It may also encourage DTH connectivity in the border belt.
19 June 2014

Border population thinning out, Arunachal governor alerts PM



Arunachal has always been a sensitive state with China often claiming it as its territory.

NEW DELHI: Arunachal Pradesh governor Lt Gen (retd) Nirbhay Sharma has sounded a security alert along the Sino-Indian border and sought the PM's intervention to relook at the government's rehabilitation policy in the area.

In a communique to the prime minister's office last week, the governor warned the government of a "thinning out of population along the Line of Actual Control" which could have serious long-term security implications for the country. Sharma has suggested setting up of a Border Area Security and Development Authority.

"This issue needs to be addressed urgently or else apart from a constant threat of ingress, gradual assimilation of our area by China is along the cards, on the lines already witnessed in north Myanmar," said the note to PMO.

The governor, a former military strategist having served in north-east and J&K during his 40-year career with the Army, has suggested making all of the approximately 50,000 civilian population in bordering villages along LAC as "part of the security forces" deployed there.

"The developmental plan of the border belt has to be reviewed in a big way," the governor emphasised, and suggested that paramilitary forces and the Army deployed on the LAC should share common infrastructure, communication, health and other logistical facilities with the villagers. "This project should be addressed in totality and on a war footing against firm time-lines," the note said.






The need for making the border population part of the security structure has been felt necessary considering the 'tremendous' development across the border by China which has constructed road, rail and air connectivity right up to the border. Sharma has produced visual evidences to corroborate his assertion. On the Indian side "most of our road-heads are more than 50-70 km from the LAC".





Arunachal has always been a sensitive state for the country with China often claiming it as its territory. In 2008, the government through the PM's special economic package of Rs 37,000 crore laid emphasis on development of infrastructure in the state which has at least 13 of its 17 districts touching international borders.

Picking holes in the existing development initiatives, Sharma said the thrust of development under the Border Area Development Programme peters out as it ascends towards the LAC. "Consequently, there is a thinning out of the border population which comes down to the lower heights to seek better opportunities," he adds.

The governor has suggested keeping the borders out of bounds for tourists and instead compensate the local population for their limited means of livelihood. The border belt along LAC comprises around 100 villages.

Lt Gen Sharma has stressed the need to have a unified security apparatus to coordinate operations of all security forces deployed in the region and the Centre and state governments.

As part of the PM's special economic package announced earlier, two airports are being constructed at Tezu and Daporijo. The Tezu airport is expected to begin operation this year providing much needed air-connectivity to the state. For military operations, the work is under way to upgrade the Advanced Landing Grounds at Pasighat, Ziro, Aalo, Mechuka, Tuting, Walong, Vijoynagar and Tawang.

17 June 2014

Zen in Ziro: Go off-beat in Arunachal Pradesh

By Richa Gupta


Recalling her trip to Ziro, Richa Gupta tells you about what makes the Apatani tribe and their lifestyle special and what you can do in this remote valley in Arunachal Pradesh



You’re going to Ziro? Er...Is it a place? Where exactly is it? These were some common questions I answered before venturing to this remote valley in Eastern Himalayas.

Making my way from Lakhimpur in Assam to Arunachal Pradesh, I noticed several changes–plains give way to a hilly terrain, the temperature drops, the crowd shrinks to a few people, the air is cleaner and an awe-inspiring landscape emerges with a variety of ferns, orchids and rhododendrons growing in the wild amidst dense green forests.

After a six-hour-long, rickety yet picturesque ride we reach Ziro’s main town, Hapoli. It is small, but busy with government offices, schools, shops and the valley’s lone ATM. It’s also the best connecting point to the rest of Ziro and Arunachal. We hop into a cab and head to the interiors to stay with our Apatani hosts in Hong village.

Tradition Beats Technology

Small lush rice fields with fishing plots

An almost deserted village, comprising dense settlements of bamboo houses, greeted us. It was eerily quiet, until I suddenly noticed children playing around a hole-in-the-wall grocery store with an Aircel signboard.Hong was a sharp contrast to Hapoli, which had more modern structures and a busy lifestyle. Our host led us through the village on foot and then to her modest home.

Apatanis, Ziro’s tribe, are among the few in the world to worship the sun and moon, and are famed for their unique, sustainable farming and social forestry.

Their farmlands are built on flat lands, on which they not only cultivate rice, but also breed fish.

How? By creating separate pond-like plots for the fish on the rice fields. Even the elevated partition of these plots are utilised–millet is grown on them. No farm animals or machines are used for ploughing fields. Their farms are small and uniquely marked with efficient channels and canals for irrigation. The forest they have successfully conserved, now serve as water sheds from which streams flow to the fields, aiding irrigation further. Using traditional methods Apatanis have accomplished what modern machines and systems haven’t been able to. This April, the Apatani Cultural Landscape made it to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for “extremely high productivity” and “unique” way of preserving ecology.

But modern influence and education has led to youngsters losing interest in cultivation. The jobs they want are not available in the valley, pushing them to move to metros. Infrastructure is another big problem facing Ziro. While the villages are clean, filth surrounds urban areas. A good drainage system and local municipal body is urgently required for cleanliness and sanitation. NGOs like Ngunu Ziro are working towards various issues, but a lot more can be done.

Rice Beer, Herbal Salt and Conversations


A typical evening with guests
While the nearby villages of Hari and Siiro are gradually moving towards brick and mortar structures, most of Hong’s houses, like our host’s traditional one, are perched on vertical wooden stilts. The centre of an Apatani house not only serves as a kitchen, where food is cooked over flaming wood, but also as a place to have discussions, which range from environmental conservation and politics to music and their custom of love marriage. It’s also the place to watch TV, play music and simply spend quality time with each other.

By 5 am the adults leave for their farms, after finishing their morning chores, and children head to school. Being in the east means that the sun can set as early as 4.30 pm, depending on the time of the year. By late evening the entire village comes to a halt. Villagers take a stroll, a few women weave traditional outfits and post sunset, people visit friends and neighbours. Guests are served home-made rice beer with special Apatani salt called Tapyo, made from the ashes of certain indigenous plants. When iodised salt wasn’t available, Tapyo saved Apatanis from goitre, a great concern among other tribes living nearby.

Festivities and Fashion

Old meets new
During the month-long Myoko festival celebrated in March, guests are welcome all day and all night. Every year, on a rotation basis, a few villages host this festival. All homes of host villages are open 24 x 7. Just about anybody can walk in, enjoy rice beer and local delicacies.

It’s time to celebrate friendships and make merry.

The Apatani cuisine revolves around rice, accompanied by meat, boiled vegetables and delicacies cooked with bamboo shoot. They don’t use spices, but green chillis finds their way in every meal. During the festival, meat is hung outside the house; visitors can cut a piece, roast it over the fire in the centre of the house and eat it with some seasoning. Celebrations include sporting events, singing competitions and stage shows too.

Foreign tourists outnumbered Indian ones and the village women with nose plugs and tattoos running from their forehead to their chin were the most clicked. Due to modern influence the youngsters neither wear traditional clothes nor sport tattoos and nose plugs.

Ziro has festivals and rituals all year round–during Murung in January people pray for wealth and good health, during Dree in July they sacrifice animals for protection from famine. And in September prominent artists from India and beyond congregate for live gigs during Ziro Festival of Music.
Despite its share of problems, Ziro is the perfect place to experience peace and serenity and witness the successful co-existence of man and nature.

How to Reach
Located 167 km from the state’s capital Itanagar, Ziro can be approached by private car rentals, bus or shared taxis

(Tata Sumos) from Guwahati, Itanagar and North Lakhimpur. Guwahati Airport is the nearest.

Best time to go
While Ziro boasts of a cool climate all-year-round and a chilly December, the postmonsoon period (Sep-Nov) is the best

Where to Stay
Hotels: Blue Pine near Hapoli, Siiro Resort in Siiro village, Ziro Valley Resort
Homestays: Traditional stays with Narang Tam
(+91 9402464841)
Modern stays with Kago
Kampu (03788-225561)

More things to do
Visit Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, hike for amazing views to Dolo Mando, fish at Tarin Fish Farm, go on butterfly, bird watching and agriculture trails with Ngunu Ziro and enjoy nature’s bounties at Pine Grove and Bamboo Grove.
12 June 2014

Hornbill must not be forced out of its Habitat


Hornbill must not be forced out of its habitat
Asad R Rahmani
RARE SIGHT: A Narcondam hornbill in the northeast
In a remote tiger reserve, Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh, I was most amazed when I heard a “wired” sound, like some big aerial object flying over my head. The guide told me it was a hornbill flying by. I had no idea that hornbills were such huge birds and that their wingspan was as broad as six feet and that they produce such loud sounds.

Hornbills get their name from the horn-like projection on their beaks. This projection is called casque, and is also worn as a traditional headgear by tribal people in the northeast. In fact, during the election campaign in Arunchal Pradesh, prime minister Narendra Modi was seen wearing this special cap at one of his rallies, a fact that had been frowned upon by conservationists.

Conservationists have often lamented the fact that there is so much ignorance about the importance of the hornbill that is such a rarity in our country. Not enough is known about these birds and their role in the ecosystem. Recently, there has been a citizen science initiative by NCF, an organisation that is collecting information from all over India about the hornbill’s presence on an interactive website- http://hornbills.in/. Such forums are involving scientists and common man to connect with nature.

A total of 55 different species of hornbill exist in the world, of which nine can be found in India. The Great hornbill, Rufous–necked hornbill, Wreathed hornbill, Narcondam honrbill, Malabar Pied hornbill, Oriental Pied hornbill, White-throated honbill, Malabar Grey hornbill and the Indian Grey hornbill. All these birds play a significant role in maintaining the health of the forests, especially in fragmented rainforests. How? These birds are mainly fruit eaters and can fly over long distances with the fruit and seed and can spread them in open patches. There are many fruit dispersal animals like primates and rodents but they do not use open patches, so the importance of such flying birds is even more, as they can easily fly over such rubber plantations, paddy fields and orchards. Also, there are so many man-made barriers like dams or highways or human settlements where other animals cannot reach, but these birds can. Which is exactly why wildlife biologists call them ‘Mobile Link Species’.

Out of the nine hornbills in India, at least five are facing conservation threat, especially the Narcondam hornbill which is found only on a small island called Narcondam in Andaman and Nicobar. The Indian army was planning to install a large radar on this island but a powerful campaign against it and conservationists’ intervention stopped it. But only for a short while, it seems.

The latest development is that the government is in the process of giving clearance for Indian Coast Guard radars on the island. If this clearance happens, the future of the Narcondam hornbill is truly in jeopardy, for it will be forced out of the only habitat it has. The Coast Guards can surely look for other locations to install their radars, but the hornbill does not have another home.

(The writer is a conservation biologist at Tiger Watch, Ranthambore)
29 May 2014

Stapled visa issue involving China will be settled soon: Khiren Rijiju

By Manan Kumar

Minister of state for home, Khiren Rijiju, who took charge on Wednesday, spoke exclusively to dna’s Manan Kumar on various issues ranging from Chinese incursions in border areas to the assimilation of the northeast people and if Delhi will be tough with Islamabad on terror.

What reasons do you attribute to BJP’s resurgence in the Northeast?
There were two broad reasons: first, utter dissatisfaction of people from the misrule of Congress government whose popularity steadily diminished in the last few years. Secondly, the emergence of new hope in the form of Narendra Modi. Earlier, people in the Northeast used to think that BJP could never come in strength alone. In 2004, I broke that jinx and won the Lok Sabha giving confidence that the BJP can win in the northeast on its own. The fillip to this belief came when Modi became the prime ministerial candidate. On my seat of Arunachal West, Modi had definite impact in the urban pockets while in rural and remote areas the popularity of the local candidate worked.
In Assam, especially in the plains, it was purely a Modi wave that made the BJP win. Modi gave them the hope to deliver against Congress’s misrule.

Do you think that the BJP has put itself firmly in the Northeast to outsmart the Congress in future elections?
Assam, Arunachal and Meghalaya have become fertile grounds for the BJP, and its impact will spread further in other states. In my own case, I secured more votes than all the parties put together on both the seats of Arunachal. Such backing of the people will soon see a reflection in coming assembly elections too. I’m sure that our performance and delivery in the Centre will further boost BJP’s popularity.

What are your priorities for the home ministry?
My belief is that we are a strong nation so we must behave as a strong nation. When anti-social elements try to have an upper hand and become a threat to security, we must deal with them strongly and firmly. At the same time, we must not do anything in a sweeping manner that will take away the fundamental rights or the human rights of the citizens. We need to strike a balance to tread both softly and firmly. Naxalism that wants to overthrow democracy and has no love for tribal or people should be dealt with strongly.

Will there be policy changes in the Union home ministry?
We will assess all the policies the UPA government had adopted on various issues like Naxalism, northeast insurgent groups, etc, and deduce whether they have been a success or a failure and accordingly set the agenda for the future. The policies and agenda will be spelt out clearly once the home minister Rajnath Singh takes a view.
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You have been vocal on the issue of Chinese incursions on Indian land. How do you plan to deal with the issue now that your government is in full majority?
My principles and ideology won’t change just because I am in the government. As an MP, I have spoken several times what is to be done and what is the expectation of the people in border areas. The issue related to China is very sensitive. It is not only our neighbour but a very powerful country and a world economic power. Our PM has already spelt out that we don’t believe in expansion but at the same time, we will not compromise on national interest. In dealing with China two important things come to my mind. One, incursions committed by the Chinese Army in the border areas from Arunachal Pradesh to Ladakh. The other is the issue of stapled visa that China has been issuing to Arunachalis. These are the two irritants in our relations and have led to cancellation of many of our visits. When we meet Chinese officials next time, I will give inputs as a minister to the MEA and Prime Minister. I am hopeful that our Chinese counterparts will respond positively to our desire to maintain peaceful coexistence. I believe the stapled visa issue will be settled very soon.

So with China, the BJP will deal more firmly than the Congress-led UPA government did?
Definitely, forceful in a sense that we will try to prevent occurrences of such incidents. After an ‘incident’, always comes a crisis. To avoid a crisis, you need to generate confidence between two countries as well as strengthen our position at the ground level.

A major problem with the border area people is that they do not have good infrastructure, which is resulting in migration and thinning of our population. How do you intend to deal with this issue?

This is primarily because of lack of policy and planning. For instance, we should have had advance landing airstrips in border areas but little work was been done on this front. Incursions can be taken care of if infrastructure is in place and help local people stay there without facing hardship.

How do you view Modi’s meeting with Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif?
The career of a new government should start on a positive note. This kind of meeting was more of a courtesy meeting, not expected to be a detailed one. Being the largest country in the SAARC region, India took the initiative and it was a great political statement by Modi that India wants to take the lead here. A big message has gone out to the world.

But will the government soon talk about the basic issues of terrorism with Pakistan?
Serious issues have been raised with Pakistan and the Pakistan premier has also assured of taking concrete steps. So this is a solid beginning to a very complicated issue. I think it too early to judge anything but things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Delhi has been witnessing a grave problem of assimilation of people of north-eastern states. How can this be set straight?
It is a national problem. If the country has to progress, then we have to co-exist otherwise the nation cannot move forward. People blame it on government apparatus, the police, etc. It is actually a problem of the mindset. This issue is beyond governance. The need is to continuously sensitise people on a large scale to make people liberal and open towards each other. On the administrative end, the need is to provide better policing, help centres and transit camps. As a minister, I will now have the first hand information of these issues and will try to resolve them by providing lasting solutions.

Arunachal Likely To Get Sops For Hydropower Development

Sinlung Says: This could the reason why Kiren Rijiju was taken into Modi's cabinet. To exploit Arunachal Pradesh. Where else does India have resources in terms of Water other than Northeast?

Nuclear Power...To much resistance.

Mainland India needs to feed its growing hunger for energy....

COME ONE, COME ALL: LET'S EXPLOIT NORTHEAST

The state’s share of the cost will be adjusted against future revenues from the projects


By Utpal Bhaskar
Arunachal likely to get sops for hydropower development
A file photo of the 200 MW lower Subansiri hydel project. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik
New Delhi: In an attempt to accelerate hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh and pre-empt China from diverting river waters that flow into the Brahmaputra, the Indian government has found a way to get the state on board—a prerequisite if its strategy of containing its eastern neighbour is to succeed.
Arunachal Pradesh has the highest hydropower potential in the country, but not the money to stump up as its share of project costs. To get around the problem, the state’s share of the cost would be adjusted against future revenues from the projects. Apart from the up to 26% equity that a state holds in hydropower projects, it gets 12% of the electricity generated from them for free.

“Since the Arunachal Pradesh government doesn’t have the money, their equity contribution can be adjusted against future revenues,” said a senior central government official, requesting anonymity. The state government requires to contribute around Rs.16,000 crore as equity to 41 projects totalling 35,000 MW over a period of 10 years.

The state is largely dependent on the Union government financing. “We had requested the government of India. A final decision is yet to be taken,” said Hari Krishna Paliwal, chief advisor to the Arunachal Pradesh government. A second central government official, who also didn’t wished to be identified, confirmed the plan.

“Financial support was sought for Arunachal Pradesh government equity in hydropower projects,” this person said. “This is the right step forward. For hydropower projects to succeed in Arunachal, the state government should be on board.”

This follows New Delhi’s earlier attempts to get the Assam government and civil society groups on board to speed up the pace of building the 2,000 megawatt (MW) Lower Subansiri project in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Centre’s strategy comes against the backdrop of China’s ambitious $62 billion south-north water diversion scheme of the rivers that feed downstream into the Brahmaputra, known in China as the Yarlung Tsangpo.

Of the 2,880km of the Brahmaputra’s length, 1,625km is in Tibet, 918km in India, and 337km in Bangladesh. Arunachal Pradesh’s potential for hydropower generation is estimated at 50,064MW, but less than 1%, or 405MW, has been commissioned so far, even though 94 projects with a combined capacity of 41,502.5MW have been allotted by the state government.

The state has an electricity requirement of 100 MW. “The equity contribution will go towards attracting an investment of around Rs.280,000 crore in the state. The 35,000 MW can meet not only the entire electricity demand of the north-east India but can also meet the peak power requirement of the northern region.

Given the strategic importance of the state, this equity contribution which we have asked for as grant will also help the state in self sustaining itself,” Paliwa said. Of the eight river basins in Arunachal Pradesh, Subansiri, Lohit and Siang are of strategic importance, as they are closer to the border with China.

Any delay in executing these projects, particularly on rivers originating in China, will affect India’s strategy of establishing a prior-use claim. Under international law, a country’s right over natural resources it shares with other nations becomes stronger if it is already putting these resources to use.

China has 36 projects on rivers upstream of the Brahmaputra, of which 30 have been completed. Experts such as Alka Acharya, director of the New Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies and editor of China Report, have maintained that India’s success will depend upon the extent to which partners are brought in from the north-east.

“The Central government and state agencies are working at cross purposes to the extent that it has become a comedy of errors. Is there any rethinking on strategic approach on North East? In the new strategic imperatives it is the Achilles heel. This is a test case for the new government,” said Acharya.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been voted to power, has pledged special attention for the North-East in its election manifesto. “Resource-rich North-Eastern states are lagging behind in development due to poor governance, systemic corruption and poor delivery of public services,” it said.

“There will be special emphasis on massive infrastructure development, especially along the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim,” the manifesto promised.

According to India’s new hydro policy, apart from providing 100 units of free electricity per month to each project-affected family for 10 years from the date of commissioning, 1% free power is to be provided to the local area development fund from revenue generated by the project.

“For states that don’t have financial resources to provide upfront equity, it may not be a bad idea to adjust their equity contribution against their entitlement of free power in future years from the project,” former power secretary Anil Razdan said.

“However, I would strongly urge raising the share of the local area populace which is affected by the project or is in its vicinity. This would incentivise the local population to help in the early commissioning of the project so that their share of free power starts flowing.”

New Delhi is also focusing on the development of water storage projects awarded in Arunachal Pradesh to manage the fallout from China’s plans.

It plans to allot at least one major project each in Subansiri, Lohit and Siang basins as close to the international border as possible. It is also developing the physical infrastructure along the Brahmaputra river basins, having identified roads, bridges and air connectivity that need to be built.
26 May 2014

Come September, Sound of Music at ‘Ground Ziro’

Top rock bands from across the country to participate in four-day extravaganza in Arunachal

By PULLOCK DUTTA

A band performs at last year’s Ziro Festival of Music.

Jorhat, May 26 : Top rock bands from across the country would descend at “Ground Ziro” in September to participate in the four-day Ziro Festival of Music at the picturesque Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh — the land of the dawn-lit mountains.

Dubbed the country’s biggest outdoor music festival, it will host hundreds of musicians, artistes, travellers and creative people from across the country and some from abroad as well.
The third edition of the festival will begin on September 25.
Randeep Singh, a member of the organising committee, told The Telegraph that the festival would probably be the most fun-filled outdoor music event in the country to be held in an open arena surrounded by lush greenery and hills.
“We are also making arrangements for camping facilities for visitors,” Randeep said.
He said the organisers were in touch with a few internationally famous rock bands and at least one could be expected to take part in the festival this year. “If Shillong can host the Scorpions, why can't we?” Randeep asked. He, however, refused to name the bands the organisers were in touch with as “nothing has been finalised as of now”.
The last two editions of the festival had featured stellar acts from around the world, including Lee Ranaldo & Steve Shelley (SONIC YOUTH -USA), Northeast’s own Bob Dylan, Lou Majaw, from Shillong, Menwhopause, Shaa’ir n Func, Whirling Kalapas, Sky Rabbit, Peter Cat Recording Co and Guru Rewben Mashangva among others.
He said the music festival is organised with the aim of providing a platform to the musicians from the region to mingle with those from other parts of the country. “Music makes us one — is the theme of the festival,” he said.
The festival, he said, would give an opportunity to the musicians to exchange ideas and work together for peace.
Randeep said the bands would play primarily rock music, which is very popular in this part of the world. “There would be folk music by local musicians of the region also,” he said.
He said the festival would begin in the afternoon and would continue till late night each day and the first day would be free entry for all. “There will be tickets for the three other days of the festival,” he said.
He said the Arunachal Pradesh government has been providing logistical support to host the festival.

“We are also getting tremendous support from the local people,” he said.
Randeep said though hotels were available in Ziro valley, local residents would also make arrangements for home stays.
Ziro valley, primarily the home of the Apatanis, is the district headquarters of Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh and is located about 167km from Itanagar. It is one of the oldest towns in the state and is a valley at a height of over 5,500 feet above sea level, surrounded by misty mountains. Keeping company are Indian bisons, locally known as mithuns, which are common in the area.
22 May 2014

Arunachal: Oldest Woman Is 'Family Head' in Ration Cards



Itanagar, May 22 : The Arunachal Pradesh government has issued a notification regarding new ration cards in which the oldest woman of a family would be considered the head in place of its male members.

As per Section 13 of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, the government designates the oldest woman of a family, who is not less than 18-year old, as the head of a household for issuance of items under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), a notification from the Food and Civil Supplies department said here today.

In case of a household that does not have a woman or a woman of 18 years of age or above, but has a female member below that age, then the oldest male member of the family would be considered the head while the female member, on attaining such age would become the head of the household in place of the male member, the notification said.

Meanwhile, Additional Deputy Commissioners/SDOs of the district headquarters have been designated as the District Grievances Redressal Officers (DGROs) in respective districts for proper implementation of NFSA.
19 May 2014

Tuki Sworn in as Eigth CM of Arunachal Pradesh

Itanagar, May 19 : Veteran Congress leader Nabam Tuki was sworn in as the eighth chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh for the second consecutive term.

Governor Lt. Gen. Nirbhay Sharma (Retd) administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Tuki in an impressive function held at Darbar Hall of Raj Bhavan here.

Most of the newly-elected Congress MLAs, Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Mukut Mithi, AICC general secretary (in charge of Arunachal) Luzhino Faleiro and high-ranking government officials were present in the ceremony.

Later talking to reporters after the swearing in ceremony, Mr Tuki said that his government’s priorities would be on youth development, improvement of road and telecommunication in the state and to execute all ongoing projects on time.

“My government will focus more on the development of health and education sectors besides agriculture and its allied sectors and duty bound to provide jobs to the unemployed youths through various initiatives,” he said.

Moreover, he said providing security to the people of the state and improvement in the law and order would be another focus area of the new government.

“To ensure security to the people the government will deploy 24x7 PCR vans in the state capital as well as in all district headquarters to control crime and criminals as promised in the party’s election manifesto,” he said.

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