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Protect Deepor beel: Mike Pandey

  • Mike Pandey
    Mike Pandey

“If the government of Assam thinks that nature conservation is important, it must clear the Deepor Beel, a Ramsar Site and one of the best wetland ecosystems, from encroachment. It is a crucial time for Earth and our ecology, and we must act sincerely to protect what nature has bestowed on us.”

Renowned wildlife filmmaker and environment crusader Mike Pandey made this observation raising concerns on the indifferent and selfish attitude of human beings towards conservation of nature. He was delivering the Dr. Robin Banerjee Memorial Lecture at Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture in Guwahati. “It's a shame to find Deepor Beel, a Ramsar site, turned into a dumping ground. It is time to wake up. I request the state government to take the initiative to clean it up,” Pandey said. It is to be noted that apart from rich biodiversity and ecosystem, the water body maintains the water level of the Guwahati city. During monsoon it works as a reservoir to excess water.

The three-time Green Oscar winner was in Guwahati to deliver the annual Dr Robin Banerjee Memorial Lecture — organised on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the great conservationist Padmashree Robin Banerjee. Kaziranga Wildlife Society has been celebrating 12th August, the birth day of Dr. Banerjee, as Nature Conservation Day as a mark of respect to his contribution to nature and wildlife conservation. Dr Banerjee, a physician by profession was an avid photographer, painter and had 28 documentaries on nature to his credit. He was also the founder president of Kaziranga Wildlife Society, the oldest nature organization in the Northeast founded in 1969.

Pandey paid tribute to Banerjee by expressing deep respect to his vision and tireless work. Banerjee began his journey as a nature photographer when he was appointed the chief medical officer in Upper Assam. His film The Messenger from Kaziranga was the result of his adventures inside Kaziranga with a camera for six years. It was telecast in Berlin TV in 1961 which helped the sanctuary become one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations.

Besides Deepor Beel, Pandey urged the state government to deploy more forest guards to protect rhinos in Kaziranga National Park. The unabated poaching of rhinos in the Kaziranga National Park has compounded his disappointment. He gave a wake-up call to the state to do the needful and save the wetlands and the rhinos before it's too late. Pandey also expressed serious concern over the rise of man animal conflict in Assam. At least 600 such cases were reported since the beginning of 2013.

Pandey is renowned for his pioneering and landmark conservation works and has been globally honoured. He is India’s iconic wildlife conservationist, environmentalist and filmmaker. His outstanding efforts led to legislation to protect the whale shark not only in India (under Wildlife Act 1972) but also globally along with protection for other species over the years. His documentary Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India propelled the ban on the killing of whale sharks on Indian shores in 2000.  In 1994, he became the first Asian producer/ director to win the Wildscreen Panda Award also known as the Green Oscar for his film 'The Last Migration — Wild Elephant Capture in Surguja'. Pandey has won over 300 awards across the globe for his work to spread awareness about biodiversity and conservation. Earth Matters-- his TV series on DD national network, reaches about 800 million people every week.

Pandey’s speech was short and informative that enlightened the students of city’s schools who participated in the event. They had a lively interaction session with the documentary maker after the screening of his three films — Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India, The Vanishing Giants and The Vanishing Vulture. Pandey’s film, The Vanishing Vulture, highlighted how over the years population of vulture, the “nature’s most efficient scavenger” in India, has gone down to a few thousands from a state that had the highest vulture population density in the world in the 1980s.

Two books were released on the occasion. A short biography on the life of Robin Banerjee, penned by Ramani Kanta Deka in Assamese was released by the KWS president Abani Baruah. ‘Jilmil Xonowali Din’—a children book on conservation, authored by writer-activist Mubina Akhtar in Assamese was inaugurated by Mike Pandey.


Photo: Prabal Kumar Das

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Chandan Kumar Duarah's picture

The writer is a former Robert Bosch Fellow, an environmentalist and Guwahati based journalist.

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Give up idea of secession, we are integral part of India - Sahitya Sobha

3 Jul 2007 - 5:57am | Sandeeps

GUWAHATI: Asom Moha Sonmilon organized by Asom Sahitya Sobha said Assam is an integral part of India and urged all the insurgent groups to give up the idea of getting separated from the mainland and come to the negotiating table without any precondition. It also urged the Centre to provide safe passage to the insurgents and declare the dates of unconditional talks.

"The State of Assam is a part and parcel of Indian nation and all extremists groups fighting for independence should give up the idea of secession and come to negotiating table without any precondition," the Moha Sonmilon asserted after two-day long brain storming sessions at Ravindra Bhawan here.

Sonmilon also demanded the Centre to keep strict vigil on the matter that the innocent villagers should not be harassed during counter-insurgency operations launched by the security forces in the State.

The Moha Sonmilon felt the Assam Government is not sincere in its approach to solve the problem of insurgency and urged it to tackle the problem with earnestness. The Moha Sonmilon also observed that the alleged nexus between politicians and insurgents is a matter of great concern and demanded of the Government to probe into the matter and take stringent action against the guilty politicians.

The Sonmilon has also decided to take up the burning problems of Assam with both the Centre and the State governments by involving public on the basis of the categorization of the issues.

Many local writers, intellectuals, journalists and representatives of student bodies attended the session and discussed around 40 issues affecting the socio-economic, cultural and political aspects of Assam. As regards to burning influx problem, the Sonmilon observed that the problem had assumed quite an alarming dimension in the last four decades by changing the demography and posing a threat to the indigenous communities.

Moha Sonmilon also decided to take up the issue of employment and creating job opportunities for the youth in various sectors with the Centre besides taking up the problem of flood, erosion and encroachment by the neighbouring States of Assam.

The Sabha appealed to the government to streamline the education system and to introduce the official language in all the government and as well as private educational institutions as a compulsory subject, to free the reserved areas from encroachers, to direct the banks to provide loans to the local youths.

Media to Bolster Women Leadership in Panchayats

6 Jun 2009 - 1:18pm | editor

“Please give me a cup of tea” this is the first sentence relaxed Anil says to his wife after coming back home completing tiresome day long initiatives in the Panchayat. Anil got elected recently as a ward member of the Panchayat where Anamika a lady from the neighboring ward also got elected. Both of them came back from the Panchayat at the same time but Anil reached home a little early as he came by his motor bike.

Anamika was also dead tired after her daylong work in the Panchayat. Walking home added to her tiredness. Reaching home she finds lots of unwashed dishes in the sink. Whole the family members had their lunch and dumped the dishes as they consider it as the work of the Buwari (daughter in law) in the family only. Terribly tired Anamika dragged herself to clean the dishes first after changing. Prepared tea for everybody in the family including for herself, cleaned the rooms of the house, brought the cloths from the quad which she put for sun after washing in the morning, took care of the children, made them to seat on the study table, helped them to understand the difficult lessons, started preparing the dinner for the family, took care of her husband and in-laws so on and so forth.

This is the social and cultural difference of job description of Anil and Anamika. A male elected representative and a female elected representative of Panchayat. After the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act more than 9000 Anamikas come in to power to shape the future of the state. Involvement of women on the social and political decision making is the need of the time to secure the future of the human race.

However, the women leaders coming into power by virtue of reservation is facing problem in the family, society, bureaucracy and political party level. The women leaders could bring about a change fulfilling the aspirations of the Constitution, if there is a public support and opinion for the women leadership in the Panchayats.

Media being the master of public opinion building, no effective women leadership could be expected without partnership of media on the issue. Media and judiciary have set examples of being with the democracy in the country when legislation and executives fails to protect it. Hence, North East Social Trust (NEST) along with The Hunger Project, New Delhi is working strategically with the media of the state to strengthen women leadership in the Panchayats. The Hunger Project is also providing Sarojini Naidu Prize every year to the journalists of India highlighting positive stories on Elected Women Representatives of Panchayats.

Ever increasing numbers of newspapers and TV channels have expanded the need of rural journalists in an exponential rate in the state of Assam. However, there is very little opportunity for the new incumbents to the journalism to learn the basics of this profession before joining the print and electronic media. There was a good deal of demand from the rural journalists of Assam to have some level of interaction, if not training, from competent personality in this sector.

In the month of May 2009 three media workshops were organized in Lakhimpur, Jorhat and Golaghat districts of Assam where more than 100 rural journalists participated. Apart from discussing basics of the Panchayati Raj Institutions and women leadership in it, importance of positive reporting, development journalism and status of media in the state was discussed in these workshops.

Nava Thakuria, an independent senior journalist from the region participated in all the 3 workshops as the key facilitator and emphasized on the present Trend of Changes in the Media, Positive Development Journalism, and Role of Media on Building Opinion for Strengthening Women Leadership in the Local Governance etc.

Thakuria suggested the rural journalists to be vigilant and not to mix the literary writing with the journalistic one. He expressed his concern of harming both the sectors of ‘literature’ and ‘news’ due to mixing in the present trend of media in Assam. He also pointed that the ‘Internet Portals are coming up as a very strong viable alternative space for journalists’. When the state media get bias to special political party or a special school of thought and journalists find it difficult to get space for genuine stories, he should go for writing in Portals whose reader base is escalating phenomenally.

Mrinal Talukder, correspondent of UNI for last 17 years from this region, participated in the workshops of Jorhat and Golaghat district as resource person. He expressed his anguish to the rural journalist on the fact that the “Media of Assam is fast losing its relevance”. The ever decreasing credibility of various newspapers and TV channels among the mass people of the state is of major concern to the media as a whole, he added.

He also pointed the gap between the potential and actual readers of newspapers in Assam. “When we have more than 2.5 crore population, the volume of newspaper readers is not more than 5 lakhs”. Hence, newspaper is failing measurably on building any opinion in the true sense at the moment. Are the citizens of the state rejecting what we write or the way we write? Is the kind of negativity existing in the newspaper is the hindrance of increasing the reader base in the state? These are some of the unanswered questions carried by the rural journalist at the end of the workshops.

This story is written by Tasaduk Ariful Hussain, Executive Director of North East Social Trust (NEST). Hussain is working in the field of community development for last 13 years in various parts of India. He is also the founder of NEST, a voluntary organization working for last 7 years in exploring alternative livelihood, strengthening grassroots democracy and elementary education. Hussain completed M. Tech. and carried out scientific research and teaching before coming into the sector of ‘development’.

Bus-truck Collision, 8 killed, 40 injured at Rangjuli

15 Jun 2011 - 1:35am | Hamidul Gani

Eight persons were killed and 40 others injured, ten of them critically, when a bus collided with a 10-wheeler truck at Rangjuli in Goalpara district on Monday. Police, Indian Army of 9th Sikhli Regiment and medical emergency personnel rushed to the spot to rescue the injured. The speeding bus, bearing no. AS 01 DC-7245, was on its way from Fakiraganj of Dhubri district to Guwahati, and the truck (HR 74/3734) collided head-on at Rangjuli on National Highway 37 killing 2 persons on the spot and 6 others in the hospitals at Dudhnoi and Goalpara. According to eyewitnesses, the driver of the speeding bus lost control leading to the accident. Out of 40 injured, eight have been referred to GMCH.