मंगलवार, मई 18, 2010

From Darkness to Light

O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!….
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains, dungeon or beggary, or decrepit age! Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, and all her various objects of delight annulled, which might in part my grief have eased. Inferior to the vilest now become of man or worm; the vilest here excel me, they creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed to daily fraud...
-John Milton

Milton was expressing a primal sentiment as ability to see is critical for realization of human potential. This sentiment is shared by at least 12 million people in India who fall in the category of blind (visual acuity less than 6/60). In many cases this fate is totally avoidable or can be corrected by simple interventions. For example, in the year 2008-09, the country performed nearly 5.8 million cataract surgeries with 94% inter-ocular lens (IOL) implantation. In layman terms this means blindness was either prevented or corrected in 5.4 million people in one year. This was one of the activities of National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) which has made a commendable progress in terms of Cataract Surgical Rate and the momentum thus generated would continue in future also.

National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) is now more than thirty years old, launched in 1976 as 100% centrally sponsored scheme has the professed goal of reducing blindness prevalence to 0.3% by the year 2020. Blindness prevalence stood at 1% in 2006-07, down from 1.1% in the year 2001-02. Refractive errors are other important cause of vision impairment and are being addressed effectively through institutional and outreach activities. School Eye Screening is an important strategy wherein eyes of children studying in schools are screened for vision impairment and glasses distributed free of cost to students from poor socio-economic strata. Corneal blindness is being addressed through eye banking activities and a new thrust has been given for eye donation and corneal transplantation.

With the approval of Rs 1250 crores and implementation of Eleventh Plan (2007-12) the programme has taken a lead in addressing other issues of blindness in a comprehensive manner. These include Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, Childhood blindness, Low Vision and ocular injuries in a mission mode through successful Public Private Partnership. The endeavor of the programme is to eliminate all causes of avoidable blindness and to reach a sustainable level where-in all people have access to level appropriate eye care service. Tele-ophthalmology a new information technology tool has been introduced under the programme for reaching the undeserved population in rural & tribal areas. The results are very encouraging and being scaled up in a phase manner.

The programme has been fully integrated under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to enhance the reach and coverage including utilization of services of community link worker like Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers. State Blindness Control Societies and District Blindness Control Societies have been merged State Health Societies and District State Societies formed under the NRHM umbrella. Under NRHM facility for IOL implantation are to expanded to at least Taluka level.

Other new initiatives include funding for construction of eye wards and dedicate eye OT especially in North East State and Hilly/underdeveloped States and appointment of eye surgeons, eye donation counselors and Para-Medical Ophthalmic Assistant (PMOA) especially for the new or district where there are none. The recurring expenditure of such workforce will be borne by Government of India till the term of eleventh plan period and thereafter it would be taken up by respective State/UTs. Funding for provision of latest equipment and instruments for establishing & strengthening eye care services in government institutions i.e. vision centre at Primary Health Centre (PHC), Community Health Centre (CHC) through district hospital and medical colleges are being developed into centre of excellence for providing pediatric ophthalmology retina units/low vision units.

Non-governmental sector providing free services to needy population are being supported through recurring and non-recurring grant as per the approved schemes. Capacity building of health personnel is another important strategy for improving their skills and updating them on issues relevant to the programme for delivery of eye care services. The Government coordinates the in-service training of eye surgeons working in public sector and provides funding to States/UTs for other health care staff including medical officers, paramedical and community link workers. Advocacy and social mobilization including Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities have made a impetus in improving community awareness.

Funds utilization is an indicator for planned activities being under taken and during last five years utilization has been to the tune of nearly 100% of the allocation. National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB), through State/UTs and all other stakeholders and partners are consistently moving forward in advancement of comprehensive eye care services and hopefully would be able to bring the level of blindness in the country from current status of 1.0% to 0.3% by the year 2020.

बुधवार, मई 05, 2010

Valmiki Tiger Reserve

Valmiki Tiger reserve, the 18th Tiger Reserve of the country and second in Bihar is located in the northern-most part of the West Champaran district of Bihar. The Extensive forest area of Valmikinagar was owned by the Bettiah Raj and Ramanagar Raj until early 1950s. Core area was declared as a National park in 1989. Government of Bihar had notified 464.60 sq. km. Area as Valmiki Wildlife Sanctuary in 1978. Later on, in 1990 an area of 419.18 sq. km. was added to the Sanctuary. Thus Valmiki Wildlife Sanctrary embraces a total area of 880. 78 sq.km.

The Valmiki tract is broken and undulating often showing highly fragile geological formations. As a result, there are steep ravines, knife-edge ridges and precipitous walls formed by land slips and soil erosion.

The great Gandak and the Masan revers collect all the water from the numerous, tributaries. These rivers and streams keep changing course from side to side. Facilitated by the erosion prone sandy and immature soil of the banks,seasonal rivers like Panchanad, Manor, Bhapsa and Kapan display peculiar behaviour of erosion at one place and deposition of transported soil at another place.

The Hill system is the Continuation of Shiwalik Range, largely made of imperfectly compacted and ill-formed sandstone dotted with pebbles and boulders. Owing to the fragile nature of parent rock material, the soil produced at the foothill is immature, loose sand and display sheet. The menace is further aggravated by maltreatment of the forests by people in general, frequent fires and heavy grazing.As per 1997 census, there are 53 tigers and 54 leopards in the reserve.

Valmiki Tiger Reserve is home to several Species of flora such as Sal (Shorea robusta), Asan, Karama, Semal, Khair, Cane(Calamus tenuis), Jamun, Siccharrum , Mahulan, Piper, and Lagun (Peepar).

Major forest types existing in the sanctuary are Bhabar Dun Sal Forest, Dry Shiwalik Sal forests, West Gangetic Moist Mixed Deciduous Forest, Eastern Wet Alluvial Grassland, Barringtonia Swamp Forest, Khair – Sisso Forest , Cane brakes etc

There is a plethora of animals at Valmiki Tiger Reserve. Apart from the Tiger, the faunal spacies include the Leopard, Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat, Spotted Deer, Chital, Sambar, Hog Deer, Black Buck, Gaur , wolf, hyenas, Indian civets, Jungle cats, wild dogs, Sloth Bear, languor, Rhesus Macaque, etc. You will also come across birds like the peafowl and reptiles like the python at the sanctuary.

Due to construction of Baghva-Chitauni Rail-cum-Road Link Bridge, natural flow of Rohua and Kotaraihya streams were blocked and 1691 ha. Forest land has been inundated that lead to 15000 trees dying in Madanpur block in the buffer of the Reserve. Mining operation in the area also damage the reserve.

There are few archaeological important places in this area.At Lauriya Nandan Garh is a lion pillar of Ashoka, which is a single block of polished sand stone, 32’-9.5” in height with a diameter of 35.5” at base and 26.2” at the top. The pillar is over 2000 year old and in excellent condition.

Nandgarh is a huge mound composed of bricks and is about 80 feet height. According to an authoritative source, it is an Ahsok Stupa in which ashes of Buddha’s funeral pyre were enshrined.

Bawan Garhi, the remains of 52 forts and Tripan bazaar are at Darubari. Somehwar Fort is situated in Narkatiagani sub-division, near Nepal border, on top of the Someshwar hill at 2884 ft. It is believed that three rivers, Gandak, Sonha and Pachanad, merge here soon after they emerge from the hills. Triveni is also believed to be the site at which the fight commenced between Lords of Forest and Water (the Elephant and Crocodile).

मंगलवार, मई 04, 2010

Bandipur Tiger Reserve

Bandipur Tiger Reserve, situated in Mysore District of Karnataka State, was among the first nine Tiger Reserves created in India at the launch of Project Tiger in 1973. The Bandipur National park is one of the most fascinating wild-life centres established in 1930’s by the Mysore Maharajas. It was their private hunting park. Late in 1941, it was expanded to adjoin the Rajiv Gandhi National Park- Nagarhole in the north-west, Kerala’s Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in the south-west and Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai wildlife Sanctuary in the South which now together constitute the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve- the first ‘Biosphere Reserve’ of India.. This park has boasted a constant rise in Tiger population since then. It is also famous for Sandalwood trees and rare species of Flora. The highest peak is Gopalaswamy hill. The temperature in Bandipur ranges between 10 degrees and 35 degrees Celsius. The park has an average rain fall of 1200 mm.

The main perennial rivers of the Reserve are Nugu, Kabini and Moyar. The Nugu river flows in the middle of the reserve, whereas, the Moyar river forms the southern boundary between this reserve and Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. The Kabini River, across which a major irrigation dam has come up at Beechanahalli, forms the boundary between this Reserve and Nagarhole.

The Kabini reservoir provides water facility and the grazing ground on the foreshore, for hundreds of elephants during severe and prolonged pinch period. Seasonal streams like Wadli, Chammanahalla, Aidasanahattihalla, Hebballa, Warranchi, Chippanahalla and Mavinahalla are also present. There are a few natural and artificial saltlicks available in the Reserve and are being regularly used by the wild animals.

Bandipur Tiger reserve was formed by including most of the forest area of the then Venugopala Wildlife Park and its sanctum sanctorum at Bandipur, in the year 1973 and named Bandipur National Park. A Sanctuary of 90 sq. km. Area was created in Bandipur Reserve Forest in 1931. Venugopala Wildlife park was constituted in 1941 extending over 800 sq. km. The park was named after the deity, Venugopala of the shrine atop this hill.All the forests included in the Reserve are reserved forests notified prior to independence.

This reserve is covered with a mix of evergreen forests, variety of animal species and rivers. It mainly consists of medium sized hills with gentle slopes and shallow, heavily forested valleys with a remarkable variety of flora and fauna.The forest cover is very dense with vegetation like Teak, Honne, Tadasalu, Mathi, Nandi, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Bamboo, Nelli, Kooli, Kadu Tega, Dindalu, Bende, Randia and Flame of the Forest making up a major portion of the variety. Forest types are Dry deciduous scrub, Southern tropical/Dry deciduous and Southern Tropical Moist Mixed deciduous forests.

There are several species of valuable timber trees including: Teak - Tectona grandis, Rosewood- Dalbergia latifolia, Indian Kino Tree- Pterocarpus marsupium, Sandlewood (Santalum album), Pterocarpus marsupium, Grewia tiliaefolia, Amblica officianalis, Indian- laurel Terminalia tomentosa, Schleichera trijuga, Odina woliar, Butea monosperma, Cassia fistula, Dendrcalamus strictus, clumping bamboo- Bambusa arundinacea, Chloroxylon swetenia, Acacia catechu, Shorea talura , Randia uliginosa.

There are also several notable flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs including: Kadam tree Adina cordifolia, Indian gooseberry Emblica officinalis, Crape-myrtle Lagerstroemia lanceolata, axlewood Anogeissus latifolia, Black Myrobalan Terminalia chebula, Schleichera trijuga, Odina wodiar, Flame of the Forest Butea monosperma, Golden Shower Tree Cassia fistula, satinwood Chloroxylon swetenia, Black Cutch Acacia catechu, Shorea talura (E), indigoberry Randia uliginosa Major Fauna

There is large population of Elephants in BNP. Significant numbers of Predator species of Mammals live in BNP. Main Species include Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, Hyena, spotted deer, Sloth bear, Mouse deer, Wild dog, four horned Antelope chevrotian, Dhole. Among them Tiger, Four horned Antelope, Gaur, Elephant, panther, sloth bear, crocodiles, Mouse deer, python, osprey, pea fowl are Endangered Species. Reptiles

King Cobra, Common Cobra, Python, Python Adder, Viper, Rat Snake, Water Snake, marsh Crocodile, Lizard, Chameleon, Monitor Lizard, Frog, Tree frog, Toad and Tortoise Brids

Grey Junglefowl, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Honey Buzzard, Red-headed Valuture, Grey-headed Fish Eafle, Brown Hawk Owl, Bay Owl, Malabar Trogon, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Little Spiderhunter, Peacock, Plain Flowerpecker and Woolly-necked Stork can be seen at this reserve. It has reach population of butterflies.85 different types of Butterflies and 67 types of ants are found here.