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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Conservation of cold deserts in HP gets Centre’s approval

Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times  Shimla, July 28, 2014
First Published: 11:50 IST(28/7/2014) | Last Updated: 12:06 IST(28/7/2014)

The changing climate has an adverse impact on the Himalayas stretching along the tribal regions in Himachal Pradesh. The union ministry of environment and forests has approved a mega project for conservation of the cold desert in Lahaul and Spiti against this backdrop.

Alarmed over climatic threat to flora and fauna in the cold desert, the wildlife wing of the forest department had drawn a mega project for the cold desert in the Spiti Valley.

The project focuses mainly on conserving the habitat of the rare animals inhabiting the Kibber wildlife sanctuary and the Pin Valley National Park. These two places are home to elusive snow leopards, Tibetan wolf, ibex, bharals and woolly hare.

The Himachal government for the first time has prepared a project to conserve the fragile ecolog y of the cold deserts which has been impacted by global warming. The project, aimed at conserving the wildlife, is estimated at Rs. 5.15 crore.

Principal secretary, forest, Tarun Shridhar, along with principal chief conservator, forest (wildlife), Lalit Mohan, called on the additional secretary, environment and forests ministry, Hem Kumar Pandey to submit the project. The ministry has, in principal, accepted the project. “The ministry of environment and forests has in principle agreed to fund the project,” Lalit Mohan told Hindustan Times.

Besides the animal species, the project also focuses on conserving the soil and moisture in the area. It aims at preserving the natural water bodies in the cold desert, which is being impacted by climatic and the geographical changes.

“So far, there is no project in the state to conserve the fragile ecology of the cold deserts. This is the first of its kind project in the state” said Mohan, adding that under the project will involve gaining scientific knowledge to conserve the cold deserts.

Under the project, there is proposal to link the ambitious project initiated to protect the snow leopard in Spiti valley. This project had been launched in collaboration with the Snow Leopard Trust and the Mongolian government.

The wildlife department has proposed to set up a high altitude research centre at Kibber plateau, in collaboration with the National Conservation Foundation, which has researched on the elusive snow leopards.

The state wildlife department has already initiated a number of measures to conserve the snow leopards that inhabit Barabhangal, Kugti in Bharmour, Pangi in Chamba Parvati Valley and Kibber plateau and Pin Valley in Spiti. Snow leopards are also found in the high altitude areas of Kinnaur and Shimla districts.

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