Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sasan Gir National Park News - Asiatic Lion Census Completed

The four-day exercise to count the number of Asiatic Lions at its only abode in the Gir Forest in Junagadh District Saurashtra region of Gujarat concluded.

Officials engaged in the census, refused to be drawn into the number game till all reports were cross-checked and tabulations completed, but preliminary information indicate a steady rise in the lion population in “Greater Gir,” including areas outside the Gir National Park where lions have strayed into lately.

Forest department sources said the lion population could have increased to 390 to 400 despite incidents of poaching and natural deaths during the last five years. In the last census, held in 2005, the count was put at 359 (plus minus 10).

The final result is expected to be announced on the Gujarat Foundation Day at 1st May - 2010.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Junagadh Agriculture University JAU - Two News Varieties of Groundnut

There is good news for farmers in the drought-prone Gujarat. Junagadh Agriculture University(JAU) scientists have developed two new varieties of groundnut — one for Kharif Crops and other for summer season. Both varieties promise to give better yield per hectare leading to reduced consumption of water, pesticides and fertilizers.

The varieties, named as Groundnut-9 and GG-31, were cleared by the Agriculture Research and Extension Council, the apex body in the state in agricultural research, at a recent meet held at JAU. At the meet, attended by leading scientists and top officials of all the four agriculture universities, including Junagadh Agriculture University Vice Chancellor N C Patel and Anand Agriculture University Vice Chancellor M C Vaishnav, 16 new varieties of various crops including sesame, millet, brinjal, turmeric and chilly were introduced.

Following the clearance to new varieties by the apex body, the two seeds will now be taken for multiplication by the university and in a year’s time they will be available in the market.

R L Savaliya, Director, Education department at JAU, said that Groundnut-9 is a Kharif variety which can give a yield of 1,632 kg per hectare. The three sub-varieties of Groundnut-9, including JG2, JG5 and JG7, give 30 per cent, 20.5 per cent and 15.5 per cent higher yield. It also gives higher kernel yield and has better oil percentage. Besides, it is tolerant to stem rot decease and pests like Gassid Thrises.

The second variety that has also got clearance from the apex body is a special summer variety – GG-31 – that gives 36.9 per cent higher yield. It has showed superiority in the quality of pod and kernel. This variety has been recommended for summer season because of is higher resistance to Gassid Thrises, halophiles and incidences of bud necrosis.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Junagadh Ahmedabad Rajkot Surat Vapi Cities Pollution Gujarat India

According to a recent report on pollution, Gujarat State - the second most polluted state in India after Uttar Pradesh - has nine places including Ankleshwar City, Vapi City, Vatva Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad City, Bhavnagar City, Junagadh City, Vadodara City, Rajkot City and Surat City which figure in the "severe level of pollution" areas.

And climatologists say that the rising level of pollution is becoming one of the key factors that affects climate variability and occurrence of extreme weather conditions like heat waves and heavy rainfall, in Gujarat. Rising temperature in the state is one of the major concerns that Gujarat State is facing right now, data collected by the city's India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows.

Meteorological records compiled over the past 40 years by IMD notes that the majority of the trends which include increase in frequency of heat wave conditions, both seasonal and annual, showed increasing levels in temperature.

The results of an in-depth-study conducted by IMD reveal that Gujarat showed a significant increase in minimum temperature during winter and annual mean temperature of Gujarat as a whole has also increased.

The IMD had gridded data of minimum temperatures over entire Gujarat during the period 1969 to 2005 and the results show an increasing trend of normal temperatures increasing by 0.107 degree Celsius during the past 40 years.

North and south Gujarat were analyzed separately and in general the rise in temperature was found to be highest in Saurashtra and Kutch, as compared to the north. And this conclusion becomes clear when the recent report of the most polluted spots shows that nine regions in Gujarat have reached a critical level of pollution.

"Pollutions certainly affecting and supporting rising temperature," confirms Dr. Kamaljit Ray, director of IMD, Ahmedabad. "Pollution certainly can be one of the prime factors for this temperature increase. Due to pollution, there are more gases in the air which trap more heat and the greenhouse affect keeps multiplying," adds Ray.

IMD's research notes that while frequency of heat waves conditions is on the increase, cold wave conditions have decreased drastically over the past decades.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Asiatic Lions Census India – 200 cameras for Sasan Gir National Park

The 13th Asiatic Lion Population Estimates 2010 will begin on April 24 in Greater Gir Sanctuary, which includes Gir National Park and Sanctuary. The area is spread in four - Junagadh Districts, Amreli Districts, Bhavnagar Districts and Porbandar Districts.

Principal sectary forest and environment department SK Nanda informed the media on Tuesday that the population estimates this time will be different from the earlier exercises.

"For the first time, we are using 100 GPS equipment, 200 cameras and 100 special camera teams for making an accurate documentation of the lions and keeping the exercise error free.

Another first is that the exercise will also incorporate Greater Gir," Nanda said and added that the many non-forest staff as ex-government officials, doctors, journalists, nature lovers would participate in the exercise.

"We have identified 450 locations in the Greater Gir area where enumerators will take estimate of the lions," he said.

Giving details of schedule, Pradeep Khanna, PCCF, Gujarat, said the exercise will start on April 24 and continue till April 27.The findings will be announced on April 29. "About 1,600 people will take part in the survey, out of which 100 will be volunteers," he said.

Speaking on the occasion, senior IFS officer RV Asari, the nodal officer for the survey, said, in order to make a comprehensive survey, the Greater Gir Jungle area has been divided into seven regions, 28 zones and 100 sub-zones.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sasan Gir National Park Gujarat Looking at return of Asiatic Cheetah

Gujarat State is willing to examine the remote possibility of the almost extinct Asiatic cheetah being reintroduced into its old home in the state, an official said Tuesday.

Pradeep Khanna, principal chief conservator of forests, while admitting in reply to a question that the possibility was remote, was nevertheless willing to examine the feasibility of such a move.

“Like Gujarat is the sole abode of the Asiatic Lion in the world, Iran is the only place where the Asiatic cheetah now survives. And it is critically endangered with less than 100 of them left,” he added.

Khanna said that the chances of Iran agreeing to part with any of its specimen of this carnivore were very remote. “We have four of the African variety in the Sakkarbaug Zoo Junagadh City but have had no success in breeding them in captivity,” he added.

Khanna said that for the very reason that the state was opposed to parting with the Asiatic lions for the proposed Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary Madhya Pradesh.

“While lions would never thrive in the proposed Madhya Pradesh sanctuary, we would like to study and survey, even involve the wildlife institute in it before arriving at some conclusion on a tiger reserve. Dangs in Gujarat was tiger country but these animals perished over time,” he said.

“So we need to address the reasons that caused their disappearance and remove them before we initiate any move afresh to bring them back,” he added.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Somnath Mandir Gujarat India – with wireless surveillance system

Gujarat State Police has allotted Rs 50 lakh for purchase and implement a wireless surveillance system on the Somnath Mandir Coastal Area.

The system once installed would keep vigil over five nautical mile coast from Somnath Mandir. Gujarat Police Chief S.S.Khandwawala, Coast Guard (Gujarat) Chief Satyakumar Sharma, DIG Pravin Sinha and District Chief of police from Junagadh District, Porbandar District and Amreli District took a glance of system in Junagadh City where cameras were put at five places for demonstration.

Gujarat State Police Chief Khandwawala briefed the reporters that this system would connect all 26 police stations of Junagadh State. After planting such cameras on all main roads of the district, the police would be able to trace suspects from Somnath Temple to Junagadh.

Khandwawala said the district of Junagadh has been selected as model district and Rs 50 lakh are to be allotted for that.

Khandwawala and state Coast Guard Chief Satyakumar Sharma took area survey of Junagadh district’s coastal areas from Keshod Town. They also visited Somnath.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Asiatic Lions Population Sasan Gir Jungle Junagadh District Gujarat India

The suspense that has built up over the last five years over the lion population in Sasan Gir Jungle will end within 72 hours of April 24, when the scheduled Asiatic Lions census in the region begins. But the exact number by which the population of the Asiatic Lions in Gir Wildlife Forest has risen will be known only on May 1, when Gujarat turns 50 as an independent state.

The census will be carried out by a team of 1,300 volunteers who will be joined by senior state foresters and big cat experts drawn from all over the country.
Spotting the lion king was never easy but foresters are hoping that technology will come to their aid this time.

This is the first time that the lion census is being conducted on such a massive scale over a large area and much more scientifically than in previous years.
The laborers, forest staff and volunteers involved in the census will fan out over 300 beats carved out of a 5,000 sq km area called the Greater Gir.

Seven regions were identified; these were then divided into zones, sub-zones and beats.
This is also the first time that the ‘Greater Gir’ region which includes areas in – Amreli Districts, Junagadh Districts, Bhavnagar Districts and Porbandar Districts- is to be covered for the census. Earlier, it was restricted to the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary spread over an area of 1,412 sq km.

The inclusion of other areas for the census is a restrained admission by the establishment that the lion habitat has now expanded much beyond the sanctuary area.
The majestic beast is now steadily reclaiming its traditional corridor all the way from Porbandar to Bhavnagar.

The last lion census of 2005, which stated that the lion population in the Gir sanctuary was 359, was conducted by identification of pug marks.
This time the methodology of ‘direct sighting’ will be used. Under this method, specific body marks will be identified and uploaded into the GPS device carried by each team. This data will be available to all other teams simultaneously.

“It will reduce redundancies to a great extent, but not completely,” said principal chief conservator of forests, Pradip Khanna. Ironically, it might be relatively easier to enumerate the lion king in summer as they tend to hover close to the water holes because of the heat.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Property Cards Gujarat – Junagadh Ahmedabad Surat Rajkot Vadodara News

The Gujarat State Government has started a pilot project in seven municipal corporations of the state under which, from May 2010, all registration of new property will be done only through ‘property cards’. The seven municipal corporations chosen for the project, named Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Surat Municipal Corporation, Rajkot Municipal Corporation, Vadodara Municipal Corporation, Jamnagar Municipal Corporation, Junagadh Municipal Corporation and Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation.

It may be recalled that, in December 2009, the state government had decided to make use of ‘property cards’ mandatory for authenticating the ownership of property in urban areas. It had also announced that all property ownership records in the urban areas would be converted into property cards.

The government was forced to take this decision because of illegal use of the ‘7/12 forms’ - a document used to decide ownership of agricultural land - in authenticating ownership of property in urban areas.

Much of the land and property in today’s urban areas was once rural property for which the ‘7/12 forms’ were sufficient. But use of the ‘7/12 forms’ became illegal once they were declared to be urban property. A senior officer in the state revenue department said the project to convert all ‘7/12 form records’ into ‘property cards’ was nearly over in AMC areas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Saurashtra Kutch News – about Narmada Water Pipelines

With soaring temperature, water looks a distant mirage in Saurashtra and Kutch where many villages and small towns are reeling under acute water shortage for want of connectivity with Narmada Canal Water Pipelines.

While the state government claims to have supplied Narmada pipeline water to 10,000-odd villages and more than 100 cities, Amreli City, Junagadh City, Bhavnagar City and Surendranagar City, Morbi City and Kutch are getting water supply only once in four or 10 days.

"If some areas are hit by water scarcity, we will do our best to supply water there through pipelines. In fact, the administration has already been instructed to take necessary steps to ensure adequate water supply in those areas. That apart, collectors of several districts hit by water paucity have been instructed to ensure fodder supply for animal husbandry in the affected areas to be made available at cheaper rates from the forest department," said State Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel.

According to Gujarat State Water Resources Minister Nitin Patel, 1,100 cusec water is released on daily basis in Narmada canal to meet the requirement of Saurashtra and Kutch. "It is true that most of the reservoirs are drying up. Whatever water left in them has been conserved for drinking purpose. Yet, we are trying to find other alternative means to upgrade water supply in the affected areas. The alternative means could be repairing of hand pumps and sending water tankers," Patel said.

The water reservoirs report inadequate water level as the state registered only 76 per cent rain fall last year. After the last year monsoon, the water level in reservoirs was measured only 50 per cent, following which, the government ordered that the water in reservoirs be kept reserved for potable water. At present, there is only 24 per cent water left in 195 reservoirs across the state, which, it is feared, may not last till June 25.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Junagadh Forest Department News Tourism Gujarat India

Junagadh Forest Department has created new Trackers party to deal with issues pertaining to lions outside the Sasan Gir Lion Sanctuary area.

Last month, locals of Mandanpara and Chorvadi villages near Bilkha Taluka killed a lion in self defense. On the backdrop of this incident, the forest department decided to extend its supervision also in non-forest area around Gir Jungle.

Trackers party will build relation with the village people settled around forest area. There would also be an information mechanism.

Junagadh’s CCF Sudhir Chaturvedi has appointed RFO Dipak Pandya to lead trackers party. In its first success, the trackers party relocated a 6-ft-crocodile from Sodavadar village to Willingdon Dam.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mango Productions Junagadh Ahmedabad News Gujarat India

Gujarat State may clinch the pole position in mango production this year edging past Andhra Pradesh.

Hopeful of clinching the top spot, Gujarat Agriculture Minister Dilip Sanghani said: “There will be a bumper mango production in Gujarat this year. Five years ago, Gujarat was in sixth position.
Last year, we were in second spot. We hope to emerge first in mango production in the country this year.” Sanghani said: “The average mango productivity in India is 17 tonnes per hectare of land. Last year, Gujarat’s productivity was 24 tonnes per hectare. This year, it can go up to 26 tonnes per hectare and we may emerge first in mango production in India.” According to reports, mango harvest will be poor in Andhra Pradesh this year. This summer, Amdavadis will have the privilege of savouring cheaper Kesar mangoes longer.

Thanks to its bumper harvest. Bolstered by additional flowerings, green Kesar mangoes have hit the city almost a month in advance. Its ripe variety will be flooding the city fruit shops from next week. They will be available at least till the first week of July and at a comparatively cheaper price due to 30 per cent surge in production.
At present, around 30,000 boxes, each weighing 10 kg, of green Kesar mangoes grown in Junagadh City are arriving at Naroda fruit market every day.

Ahmedabad City Fruit Wholesalers’ Association president Laxmandas Rohra said: “This year, Kesar mangoes have reached the city a month in advance. Now 30,000 boxes of green mangoes, each priced between Rs 250 and Rs 300, are reaching the city. A week on, 1 lakh boxes of ripe Kesar mangoes will arrive in Ahmedabad daily and its price will go down.”

Usually green Kesar mangoes surface in city markets in the last week of April. But this year, they are available aplenty from April first week. Scientists are attributing Kesar mangoes’ advance arrival to early and additional flowering.

Usually there are two flowerings of Kesar mangoes in a season. But this year four flowerings have been reported.
Research scientist at Junagadh Agriculture University Dr RR Viradiya said: “The four flowerings were due to global climate change.

The first flowering took place 15 days in advance. So, Kesar mangoes were visible in the market early.”
Viradiya added, “The season of Kesar mangoes used to last 45 days five years ago. This year, the season will double up to 90 days. The harvest will be also be 30 per cent more than last year due to multiple flowerings.” Former vice-chancellor of Junagadh Agriculture University KB Kikani said: “There has been a change in flowering pattern of Kesar mangoes this season. The last flowering was late. So, the season of Kesar mangoes will last longer.”

An officer in agriculture director’s office in Gandhinagar City said Junagadh produces maximum Kesar mangoes in the state.
Kesar Keri are grown on 17,000 hectares of land in Junagadh. Its average annual production is 90,000 metric tonnes. It may go up to 1 lakh metric tonnes this year,” he said.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Swaminarayan Temple Kalupur Ahmedabad Junagadh News Gujarat India

As school-going kids and living in the walled city, the Shaikh brothers used to often pass by the 200-year-old Swaminarayan Temple Kalupur Ahmedabad, not knowing that years later they would be telling the story of the sect’s founder in ‘3D’ technology.

In the first of its kind stereoscopic 3D film, Ahmedabad-based Mohammad Naim Shaikh, a graduate from National Institute of Design (NID), and Mohammad Nadeem Shaikh, an architect, have depicted the birth, transformation, life and learning of Swaminarayan Bhagwan in a 20-minute film to be released on May 1, marking 50 years of the foundation of Gujarat. The film is made by MSquare, the firm launched by the brothers two years ago.

The film — ‘Sahajanand’ — is directed by Praful Kharsani of PK Films, an Ahmedabad-based production house of Gujarati films.

Claimed to be the first initiative of its kind in the country, this film has been shot by S3D cameras. “Though there have been a few projects in the country using stereoscopic technology, they are all imported technology. For this film, we have customized most of the equipment and cameras. For editing we are using licensed version of software,” says Naim.

The film, which is in the post production stage right now, will be screened as part of the 20-day-long idol installation ceremony at the newly-constructed Swaminarayan temple Bhuj through a special projection installation, where close to 30 lakh devotees from across the world are expected to visit.

“Prafulbhai was exploring the idea of how the story of Swaminarayan Bhagwan can be told in a different and more interesting way. He visited Mumbai after which he learnt of the work I had been doing in the virtual 3D field. This 3D motion film is the first such project for us,” said Naim, who was a consultant with NID on the designing of Mumbai’s Monorail project.

As a part of the research, they visited various Swaminarayan temples, read the stories, talked to devotees about costumes, set and found the perfect setting in Junagadh City Districts Villages. “What we really liked about the sect is their teaching method, which includes aspects of many religious groups,” says Nadeem.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Kesar Mango Talala Gir Junagadh District News Gujarat India

A Major mango feast is in the offing for fruit lovers in the region due to an early arrival of the Kesar Keri variety coupled with a bumper crop this season.

This year’s first auction of the fruit began at the Talala Marketing Yard on Tuesday (April 6), which is generally held in May.

According to experts, the season is likely to last till June and rates may also come down as the yield is reported to be 15 per cent more than the last two years.

On the first day of the auction, 8,400 boxes (each weighing 10 kg) arrived from various villages in the Gir region of Junagadh district.

The minimum rate for 10 kg was Rs 150 — nearly Rs 100 less than the previous year.
Sadarsinh Chauhan, a member of the Talala Marketing Yard, said: “The weather was perfect this time, as a result of which the fruit has arrived early and in a large quantity. The first lot has arrived with that of hafoos.”

Last season, the marketing yard had auctioned over six lakh boxes, which is expected to increase significantly this year. “Initial trend indicates there will be 15 per cent more yield this season. On the first day itself there were 300 more boxes,” said yard chairman Chagan Kansagra.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Siddi Tribe Sasan Gir National Park History Junagadh Gujarat India

The men folk of African primitive tribe Siddi, who were brought here as slaves by the Portuguese, are being trained to become eco-guides of the Asiatic lions last abode -- Gir Sanctuary -- by the Gujarat State Government.

This is a part of the project initiated by the state Tribal Development department in order to improve livelihood, housing, access to safe drinking water and electricity, increase literacy, health facilities and roads to the five major Primitive Tribal Groups (PTG) of Gujarat, namely Kolgha, Kathodi, Kotwalia, Padhar and Siddi.

"Looking at the concentration of Siddi tribe near the Gir Forests in Junagadh District, we thought of training them to become eco-guides, which will help them take advantage of the growing eco-tourism in the state, especially around Gir Forest region," Secretary, Tribal Development A M Tiwari.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bhuj Bhavnagar Junagadh Ahmedabad Summer Temperature News Gujarat India

Current spell of heat wave is not expected to last long; situation may improve by March 20 Several parts of the state have been reeling under intense heat wave for the last two days, with the maximum temperature going as high as 43 degree Celsius.

On Thursday, Deesa in North Gujarat remained the hottest at 43 degree Celsius, followed by Vadodara City in Central Gujarat at 42.7 degree Celsius, Bhuj City42.6 degree Celsius, Junagadh City and Ahmedabad City 42.5 degree Celsius and Bhavnagar City recording 41 degree Celsius.

State capital Gandhinagar City, known for its greenery, recorded a maximum temperature of 41.4 degree Celsius.

Temperatures recorded in the last two days have been surprisingly high considering the fact that the average maximum temperature during March in Gujarat remains between 36 and 38 degree Celsius.

With the mercury remaining five to six degrees above normal, meteorologists and weather experts say it has resulted in heat waves.

The coastal region has, however, remained relatively less hot, with Okha recording a maximum temperature of 30.3 degree Celsius and Veraval City 33.3 degree Celsius.

According to meteorologists, a hot advection in the deserts of the north-western region coupled with anti-cyclonic circulation over the state has increased temperatures much above normal.
Senior meteorologists at the Meteorological Department said that anti-cyclonic circulation has added to the heat wave condition.

Prof P K Sahoo, Agriculture Meteorologist at the Junagadh Agriculture University(JAU), said it is because of the low atmospheric pressure over Gujarat that the hot north-westerly winds from the desert are coming to the region, causing a sudden rise in the temperature.

He said global warming is certainly to be blamed for the general rise in temperature, but whether it is due to any climatic change is a matter of study and research.

The current spell of heat wave is, however, not expected to last long.

Manorama Mohanty, a meteorologist said, the conditions will improve after March 20, as the north-westerly winds will subside by that time.

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