Saturday, May 30, 2009

Junagadh News – Cheetahs Care at Sakkar Baug Zoo

Sakkar Baug Zoo tries to play Cupid for cheetahs.

After hogging limelight for acquiring the earth’s fastest animal, Cheetah, from Singapore, officials at the Sakkar Baug Zoo in Junagadh have now got down to do more serious job of courtship between the two African pairs.

The zoo officials know it’s not an easy task given the fact that the male cheetahs, who live in groups, usually attack the females, which are solitary in nature and seldom show any reproductive behavior.

“Breeding cheetah is very challenging. But we will make this happen.

We will soon visit De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust is South Africa to get the training in breeding of the endangered species.

De Wildt has achieved remarkable success in increasing the population of the spotted big cat,” said V J Rana, director Sakkar Baug Zoo.

Breeding among predators have been made possible by the De Wildt after several experiments, which ended up in constructing a “lovers’ lane” along the female enclosures to allow easy access to the males, he said.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Junagadh City News – Renovated AC Town Hall

Junagadh to get newly renovated AC Hall.

Saurashtra’s Junagadh will soon have renovated air-conditioned town hall.

Under the Vajpayee Town Development Scheme, the state government had allotted Rs. 25 crore grant to Junagadh Municipal Corporation. Rs. 1.50 crore of which were allotted for town hall’s renovation.

Completion of renovation work of the town hall may take another month or so. After that, the hall will be made air-conditioned.

Municipal Corporation election in Junagadh is scheduled to happen in July. Local BJP ruling body intends to inaugurate newly renovated hall before the election.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Junagadh District News – Gir Wildlife Sanctuary Sasan Gir

Asiatic Lions population in Bhavnagar increases to 25 from 14 in four years.

Within four years of the last census in 2005, further dispersion of Asiatic lions on a large- scale in areas of Bhavnagar district has been observed. From 14 in the last census, which was a record in itself, the number of lions in the green areas of the coastal belt is now 25.

The forest department has already considered declaring nearly 200 square kilometres in the district with green cover area as conserved forest for the lions. The district is located at least 100 km away from Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the home of the Asiatic lion.

In the last census, 14 big cats had been found in and around Bhavnagar. Our recent estimate puts the number at 25,” said K Randhava, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Bhavnagar (Junagadh Circle).

The total number of lions in and around the sanctuary in the census was put at 359. Like Bhavnagar, dispersion has been observed towards Sutrapada (Junagadh district) and Barada (Porbandar district) in recent years. With the lion population on the rise, their further dispersion in search of more space and food has not been ruled out.

In grasslands and open areas of Palitana, Mahuva, Talaja, Gariyadhar, Ghogha and Vallabhipur, lions are being spotted frequently. “This is a stretch that runs adjacent to Gir East,” Randhava added.

The forest department believes that open grasslands and forest areas, where the nilgai is also found in large numbers, provide a suitable environment for lion habitat. Locals, especially farmers, are more than happy to adjust with the new visitors, as the presence of lions has controlled the nilgai population that poses a threat to the standing crops.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Junagadh City News – Cheetahs in Sakkarbag Zoo

Junagadh City Sakkarbag Zoo official to get training in captive breeding of cheetahs.

The state government will send an official from Sakkarbag Zoo of Junagadh to an African country to get training in captive breeding of cheetahs.

Chief Minister Narandra Modi made this announcement while four cheetahs housed in Sakkarbag zoo were displayed for public view on Sunday morning.

Zoo director VJ Rana said keeping cheetahs in captivity is a challenge. The bigger challenge is to see them breed in such an environment.Captive breeding has not been successful in any part of the world till now.

"We have taken up this challenge and hope to succeed," said Rana. Four cheetahs named Adam (8.3 years), Lestard (2.9 years), Alinka (2.9 years) and Malinka (6 years) were brought from Singapore zoo on March 29 . All of them were kept under close observation and after nearly two months, they were displayed for the public on Sunday.

Rana said all four weighed between 35 and 50 kg and are in a healthy condition.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Junagadh City Saurastra News - FM Radio Station

Junagadh’s radio fans write 8,000 post-cards demanding FM station.

Radio fans in Saurashtra’s Junagadh wants FM radio station in their town.

For last week or so, a small agitation is going on for this cause under the leadership of Junagadh’s Madhur Social Group. Agitating radio fans have posted 8,000 post-cards demanding FM Radio station.

According to radio fans, a building for proposed FM radio station in Junagadh is in idle condition without any usage for last two years. Modern sound/radio equipments too are lying inside the building.

Though sanctioned, the town is being deprived of having FM radio facility.

On Sunday, radio listeners camped at Junagadh’s Azad Chowk to attract peoples attention towards this issue. 8,000 people visited the agitation camp and signed 7,691 post cards demanding FM radio station in Junagadh.

In the evening, between 5 to 6pm, radio fans played their radio-sets in loud voice, all over the town to raise the volume of their demand.

Thousands of post-cards will reach concerned authority soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Junagadh Tourism - Summer Palace Holiday Camp Chorwad

Junagadh Saurastra Tourism Hub Holiday Camp,Chorwad languishes in neglect. Holiday Camp (Chorwad),Well-known tourist place Holiday Camp situated on the picturesque shoreline of Chorwad is languishing due to lack of maintenance and Tourism Corporation of Gujarat's (TCGL) dilemma whether to privatise the property or renovate it.

The chief attraction of Holiday Camp is Summer Palace, which is on the verge of collapse.

It was constructed in 1928 just 10 meters away from the scenic coastal village Chorwad in Junagadh at an estimated cost of Rs 1.50 lakh by the last nawab of erstwhile Junagadh state Mahabat Khan.

The heritage palace was the official residence of the nawab during the summers till 1947. The adjoining building constructed by the state government four decades back to woo tourists is also in a dilapidated condition. After Partition, the Nawab of Junagadh went to Karachi in pakistan and the property was attached by the Road & Building Department of Saurashtra state.

After the formation of Gujarat state in 1960, the property was taken over by Public Works Department. In 1979, to promote tourism in the area, the palace and adjoining land along with cottages were handed over to TCGL and later on developed as Holiday Camp.

"Till 1990, thousands of tourists used to visit and stay at the camp and economy of the coastal village was booming. Especially businesses of traditional cloths, decorative material made out of seashell, handicrafts, restaurants and other tourism-related commercial activities flourished and locals had lucrative options of livelihood.

But with the palace being neglected, the tourist flow has dwindled, said Parun Sevara, a resident of Chorwad.
Porch of the palace has come down.

Belgian Chandeliers, Italian furniture, fabulous showpieces and invaluable paintings and other antique items have got destroyed or stolen, said an employee of TCGL.
PS Ganguli, manager of Holiday Camp, said at present, a restaurant run by TCGL is functional and 24 cottages on the backyard of Summer Palace are being rented to tourists.

However, occupancy rate remains extremely low as the cottages are not sea facing, said Ganguli.
When contacted, Gujarat State Tourism Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said the state government understands the need to attend to the issue urgently and some concrete measures would be taken soon to boost tourism in the area.

TCGL chairman Kamlesh Patel said the corporation is in the process of revamping Holiday Camp and various options, including privatisation, are being explored.

Dhirubhai was keen to buy Summer Palace :- Patriarch of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), the late Dhirubhai Ambani, who spent his early life in the coastal village of Chorwad, was interested in buying the Summer Palace and wanted to develop the resor to promote his native place as tourist destination.

Negotiations also took place between top officials of state tourism department and representatives of RIL around a decade ago.

However, the deal could not come through and now the property is abandoned. The renovation of the palace would cost around Rs 2 crore but the TCGL is not keen to spend that much at the moment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Junagadh District News – Gir National Park,Sasan Gir Jungle Tourism

Tourist inflow to the Gir National Park in Gujarat, the world's only natural habitat for the rare majestic Asiatic lions, has dipped due to the intense heat.

This year several factors have affected the number of tourists and wildlife enthusiasts from visiting the sanctuary.Apart from the rise in mercury, global recession and the Indian Premier League cricket tournament have distracted the prospective visitors to this place.

Consequently, allied services such as hotels, travel agents and taxi operators have been adversely hit.

"Due to the heat and the IPL cricket matches, the tourist inflow is less. There are about 70 vehicles here. Sometimes we take one or two trips to the Park, but now it is even once in three to four days sometimes. The business is quite bad," said Rafiq, a taxi driver.

However, the officials manning the sanctuary sounded optimistic by saying that this is just a seasonal phenomenon and the tourist inflow would increase when the heat decreases.

They also pointed out that there is a particular time to visit the park as such tourist inflow is not that bad.

"For the time being this maybe the reason. But we are getting more tourists. Everyday the number is increasing. And there is a time to visit the forest," said Sandeep Kumar Singh, Divisional Forest Officer, Gir National Park.

Established in the year 1965, the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary covers a total area of 1412 kilometers (about 258 kilometers for the fully protected area (the National Park) and 1153 kilometers for the Sanctuary).

This region is regarded as one of the most important protected areas in Asia.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Junagadh News - National Informatics Center developed new software

New software to facilitate faster declaration of result.

The Junagadh District administration has developed a special vote counting software that will help in early and accurate declaration of the poll results.

Experts of the National Informatics Center (NIC), Junagadh unit, have developed this new software, said official sources.

According to Atul Khunti, Technical Director, NIC, all computers placed in the seven counting halls have been connected to the computers placed in the central computer room in the election office. As soon as counting data is fed into a computer, it will flash on a computer placed at the central computer office.

Central office computers are fully updated with the new software in which all the related data is pre-fed. This will provide complete details – votes counted, how many votes went to whose account, votes to be counted and the margin of lead among rival candidates.

“The central election office is linked to a computer placed at Junagadh Agriculture University auditorium, which will display all the figures on the screen instantly and will be accessible to everyone,” Khunti said.
According to Khunti, the system will prove helpful for everyone: media persons, political party supporters and the general public.

Besides, it will reduce crowding of the counting center, he said.

Aswini Kumar, District Collector and District Election Officer, said: “Wi-Fi System was earlier used successfully during the Girnar mountaineering competition. It will be pressed into service to display the counting progress at half a dozen places simultaneously. Mock drills in this regard have been carried out successfully in Junagadh Agriculture University.”

According to Kumar, this software would enable faster declaration of result in the Junagadh seat. Nearly 600 officials have been pressed into service for counting, he added.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Junagadh District News – Girnar Mountain and Gir Forest Sanctuary

New water holes made for big cats.

With lions wandering into newer territories, 113 Water holes have been made in Amreli, Bhavnagar and Junagadh districts to quench their thirst.

A large number of big cats have moved out of Gir Sanctuary and made these areas their permanent home. As a result, the state government has got ponds constructed there.

Officials said artificial water holes have been constructed regularly for the past few years. Lion population in 2005 census was 359. Of these, it is estimated that at least 100 lions have wandered outside the sanctuary.

This figure is expected to be higher in the census due next year, they added. Officials said construction of such large number of water holes is an indication that the big cats have found a home away from Gir Sanctuary.

Lions have made areas like Dhari, Khambha, Palitana and banks of river Shetrunji their permanent home.

Conservator of forests (Gir) MM Sharma says "The water holes are being constructed since 2007. There are 546 such artificial water holes in Gir."

Around 70-odd lions have regained lost territory in areas facing water shortage. Spots for water holes were fixed based on reports from officials and villagers. Only five new water holes have been made in Gir Sanctuary because of failure of existing ones.

A senior officer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said a debate is on on the need to protect lions from unnatural deaths.

Experts feel the most important long-term conservation measure is establishing at least one more free-ranging population of lions which can grow to be sufficiently large and also be isolated from the Gir population.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Talala Gir Junagadh District News – Kesar Mangoes Keri Production 2011

Price of Kesar soars due to decline in yield.

Mango lovers in the region might not relish their due share of Kesar this season, with the soaring price of this famous breed of mango due to decline in its yield.

The production of Kesar in Navsari was recorded at 10 percent while Talala produced 30 percent of it, which is estimated to be 50 percent lower than previous year's yield.

The mango hit the market a couple of days ago in Navsari, but consumers seem uncomfortable with the price.

Those who can afford the price have reduced the quantity they used to buy earlier, a shopkeeper said.

Akshay Patel from Sona village in Navsari said this year production of Kesar in the region is around 10 percent.

A retailer, Mangaram Marathi said that Kesar is being sold at a price of Rs 50-60 per kg.
Lower production has also affected the export of Kesar from Navsari.

President of marketing yard at Talala, Vallabh Chaudhary said Centre's allocation of fund of Rs 4.5 crore for setting up a mango processing unit at Talala will help boom the export of Kesar from next year.

Mango season in Talala and other areas in Junagadh district starts from the month of May and lasts till the third week of June.

However, this year the mango yield has dropped by about 50 percent due to global warming, unseasoned rains and high temperature at the time of flowering and maturity, the agriculture experts said.

One of the office bearers of Agriculture Produce Market Produce at Talala, Hasmukh Jarasaniya said the price of ten kg box of Kesar now ranges from Rs 300 to Rs 600.

A total of 7500 boxes were auctioned on the first day of arrival of Kesar in the yard, he said.
The commissioning agents and fruit sellers said they they expect to sell only about three lakh boxes of Kesar this year, which is one third of last year's figure when the yard sold nine lakh boxes.

However, markets across Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Navsari, Bulsar, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and other places are flooded with different kinds of mangoes from other parts of the country which include Alphonso, Totapuri Badami and Payri.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Junagadh City News – Cricket Ground at Swami Vivekanand School

A new cricket ground will come up in the heart of Junagadh City.

The Junagadh Municipal Corporation (JMC) has cleared the tender process for the same and work is scheduled to start in the first week of June. The Swami Vivekanand ground has been chosen as the site for the said project.

Bharat Karena, the chairman of the JMC Standing Committee said: “Rs 50 lakh tender has been sanctioned by the JMC standing committee meeting organized on Monday.

In the first phase, the cricket ground and the indoor stadium will be constructed at the site.”

He said the construction of a pavilion and other infrastructure facilities are also on the cards and the entire project will be developed gradually.

JMC has received a grant of Rs 50 lakh in the first phase for the said project. As soon as further grant is received, development work will be carried out accordingly, Karena said.

He said the JMC aims to bring out the sporting skills of the youth by providing them adequate facilities, but they have concentrated on cricket as the game is popular in the country and youths take a keen interest in it.

“The new ground will provide the city youth with adequate facilities for various games, especially cricket. The proposed indoor stadium will provide enough facilities and opportunities for other indoor games, as well,” he added.

Karena further said that after the project is realized, Junagadh will likely play host to various state and national level sports events.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Junagadh City News – Girnar Ropeway Project

Environmentalists to file PIL against ropeway project at Girnar Parvat.

Environmentalists fear that the proposed aerial ropeway project at Mount Girnar can pose a big threat to ecology in the area.

Girnar is home to nearly 10 Asiatic lions and is also an important roosting and nesting site for vultures.

While public hearing for clearance of the project is scheduled on June 6,Gujarat Nature Club (GNC), an environmental NGO is set to protest against the project.

GNC has also planned to file a public interest litigation in the High court.The fact that over 7 hectares of forest area costing around Rs 89.31 crore has been diverted for the project has raised many eyebrows.

Ropeway service cabins, each having a capacity to accommodate 8 passengers, will pass through over 1,700 meters of forest area.

According to project details, 1,000 passengers will be carried in ropeway cabins in an hour. The service will start from Girnar foothills and end near Ambaji Temple at the top of the Girnar mountain.

While the service providing company along with the forest department has agreed for compensatory afforestation in over 7 hectares of land in Toraniya plot, the damage to the ecology in the area cannot be ruled out, said environmentalists.

“The area surrounding the project site is home to at least 10 Asiatic lions. The project will disturb their normal life,” said Amit Jethava, the president of GNC.

He said, “Girnar is also an important rooting and nesting site for Schedule-I vultures. The project can pose a big threat to the site.” He said that as per the last census, there were 79 vultures at Girnar.

The GNC said that besides opposing the project during the public hearing, they will also take legal routes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Junagadh District News – Kesar Mango Keri Talala

Kesar Mango may be out of bound for ‘aam’ aadmi”.

Global warming has claimed its latest victim-mangoes in Junagadh district as well as the whole of Saurashtra region, taking the king of fruit out of reach of the general populace.

On Tuesday, as the auction of Junagadh's famous Kesar mangoes began in the Talala Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) yard, it was declared that the mango crop produce had dropped by a major 40 percent. However, the price of mangoes saw no such fall as they rose inversely proportional to the mango yield this year.

Talala APMC yard chairman Harsukh Jarsaniya said the auction of mangoes officially began from today and the price of a 10 kg box of mango now ranges from Rs 300 to Rs 600.

"Last year, a total of nine lakh mango boxes had been sold in the Talala yard. However, this year the astronomical prices might ensure that they do not even touch the three-lakh mark," he said.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Junagadh Gujarat News – Shakkarbaug Zoo 2011

Indian summer too hot for Cheetahs from Singapore.

Authorities in the Shakkarbaug Zoo of Gujarat’s Junagadh Town have removed a pair of Cheetahs received from Singapore in June last year from public view as the animals could not bear the intense heat wave sweeping the state.

The Cheetahs - a male and a female - were brought to Junagadh in exchange for three Asiatic lions which were sent to the Singapore Zoo by the Gujarat government last year.

‘We have removed the Cheetahs from public view as both the animals were found not liking Indian summer temperatures and have been lodged in a private enclosure having a temperature-controlled environment. This is also their first summer in India,’ a senior wing official of the wildlifeJunagadh District forest department told IANS.

He said that the Cheetahs are provided purified drinking water and food approved by veterinary doctors so as to ensure that they do not fall sick. The Cheetahs would be out of public view for a month and would be taken out only when the temperature suits their bodies.

As many as 30 Cheetahs brought by various zoos in India from various countries for breeding purposes during the past two decades have all died as they could not adjust to the harsh Indian climate during summer months, he added.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Girnar Mountain(Parvat) Junagadh,Saurastra – Girnar Ropeway Survey

European experts undertake Girnar Ropeway Survey.

Promoters of ‘Udan Khatola', the ambitious rope way project of Girnar, have begun a pre-project survey of the mountains.

The decades-old project, which has yet to see the light of day, has shown some signs of a headway with this survey.

"Girnar ropeway project has finally been revived," said Dipak Kapilesh, western regional head of Usha Breco, promoter of the company. "A nine-member team has started a six-day survey from April 2. The team consists of experts from Doppelmayr, a leading Austrian ropeway company with which we've collaborated. The company has major market share and has laid 150 ropeways in Europe last year," he said.

"We want to make Girnar ropeway project of international standard.

"So far, the survey has covered upper and lower stations. On Saturday, we undertook ropeway's central line survey and design work," Kapilesh said. "Till the final clearance, we will not be allowed to touch the grounds. So till then, we are completing the initial survey and design work," he said.

Planned in 1968, the project has been delayed for various reasons since its foundation stone was laid by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in May 2007. But, after Girnar forest covering around 180 sq km and including Mount Girnar was declared wildlife sanctuary on May 31, 2008, the project went for approval to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Recently, Usha Breco Ltd was asked to identify alternate routes as the land it has got is located in Girnar wildlife sanctuary.

Asked about the clearance, Kapilesh said, "We will obtain environment clearance certificate from the ministry by June-July, and then we will start the project work," he added."We have submitted detailed report and environmental assessment reports to GPCB and expect to get a clearance. As for the alternate route, we have suggested the best possible route to the ministry that will cause minimal damage to the environment," he said.

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