Catch all the recent news in the Himalayan region with our weekly newsletter (22 June to 28 June), A week in the Himalayas. We bring you the recent updates on mountains, northeast, environment and much more!

Earthquakes hits the Northeast Himalayan States

According to the National Centre for Seismology, an earthquake of magnitude 3.3 on the richter scale hit Meghalaya on 27 June. The epicenter was 79 km west of Tura in Meghalaya. It was on 25 June that two more earthquakes hit the state of Tripura and Mizoram too.

The earthquake of 2.8 magnitude occurred at 63 km northeast of Dharmanagar in Tripura while 4.5 magnitude quakes struck south of Champhai in Mizoram.

Locals oppose State Govt’s move to allow mining in Neugal, Himachal

Amidst the State Government’s decision to lease out a part of the Neugal riverbed situated in Bathan panchayat, Himachal Pradesh for mining and setting up a stone crusher, the locals on 26 June held a protest. Locals have claimed that there was a ban on mining in the Neugal riverbed and thus it was illegal to allot such a lease. They are also unhappy that the land was leased out for mining without public hearings.

The residents of the area have raised several objections on the mining as it would lead to health hazards and environmental degradation. They further added that mining would damage the village cremation ground, local paths, water supply schemes and bridges. The locals have warned to launch a dharna if the government goes ahead with its decision.

Tripura announces schemes to combat infant, maternal mortality and malnourishment

The state of Tripura in addition to the Pradhan Mantri Matru Bandana Yojana has launched Mukhyamantri Matru Pushti Uphaar, a scheme to combat infant, maternal mortality and malnourishment. The scheme aims to provide nutrition kits to pregnant and lactating women and children suffering from severe acute malnourishment.

Under the said scheme the pregnant women would be tested four times in nearby Primary Health Centers (PHC) and be given a nutrition kit after each test. It is being said that as many as 40,000 women will be benefitted annually under the scheme.

NGT imposed Rs. 25 crores fine on OIL over gas well fire in Assam

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in its order dated 24 June 2020 has imposed an interim penalty of Rs 25 crore on Oil India Limited (OIL) for failing to stop the fire in Assam’s Baghjan oil well, resulting in extensive damage to the environment. The order reads as “In view of the prima facie case made out against Oil India Ltd on the extent of damage caused to the environment and biodiversity, damage to both human and wildlife, public health and, having regard to the financial worth of the Company and the extent of damage, we direct the OIL to deposit an initial amount of 25 crores with Tinsukia District Magistrate.”

The bench also constituted a committee to look into the matter and submit its report in the next 30 days.

UEPPCB approves state fuel policy; Petcoke to be banned as fuel in the state by March 2024

In a bid to improve the air quality and to reduce air pollution in the hill state, Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) has approved the State Fuel Policy (SFP). The draft fuel policy allows the use of coal, wood, pine needle, and agricultural waste. It has also been decided that the state government will be promoting the use of less-polluting sources of fuel such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), piped natural gas (PNG), bio-gas, bio-fuel etc.

In this major development, the Board has decided to ban the use of carbon-rich petroleum coke (Petcoke) by March 2024, which has been found to be one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the hill state.

(By: Gautam Kumar)