DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand Space Application Centre (USAC) has started a survey of meadows in Uttarakhand with over 500 sites to determine density population of plants along with medicinal herbs across the hill state.
MPS Bisht, director of USAC told The New Indian Express, "Sample study of the meadows is being conducted to determine the 'vegetation density estimation of biodiversity' to identify grazing zones, habitat zones of species and determine the indicators of climate change.
The initiative has also been useful in providing employment to local workforce."
The USAC has trained them online to do the geotagging survey for which they are getting paid daily wages by respective district magistrates of the districts.
Meadows in Uttarakhand are found between 3000-4000 meter altitude which are mainly found in Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag districts.
Some of the main grasslands where survey is going on include the name of Dyara, Madmahesh, Valley of Flowers, Nandikund, Kachinkhal, Bedni Ali and many others.
The meadows, spanning over 28 sq km are home to endangered plants like spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi) and kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa) used in traditional medicine.
In the last few years, at least 2.5 sq km of the bugyal has been damaged, with huge cracks appearing at various spots.
The officials added that the surveyors are geotagging the meadows following which with the help of high resolution satellite data, further conformation is done by the experts and scientists of the USAC.
Bharat Singh Chauhan, a surveyor and a science graduate who has been working in Valley of Flower said, "I am glad I could be of help. In the times of Covid and lockdown this work as fulfilling as well as rewarding. In the process this work is a learning for life time."
In year 2018, the HC, terming high-altitude alpine meadows as ‘God’s own abode’ had directed the state government to “consider declaring all important high-altitude valleys and alpine meadows/sub-alpine meadows/bugyals with rich plant population as high-altitude national parks and sanctuaries within a period of six months."
The court in its order had also banned overnight stay in the alpine meadows citing it to be a threat to the fragile ecosystem of the area and ordered that fibre huts constructed in many meadows be removed within three months.
Quoting Guru Granth Sahebji, the bench mentioned that as written in the holy scripture “Pavan paani dharati aakas ghar mandar har bani,” (Air, water, earth and sky are God’s home and temple), the court directed all 13 district magistrates of the state to ensure removal of plastic water bottles, cans etc. from the meadows within six weeks and directed the state government to ensure that this land isn't encroached, even in the name of religion.