Category Archives: North East



The objective of Balipara Foundation’s visit to Royal Manas National Park was to explore the rich biodiversity of the Park which shares its border with India’s World Heritage site, Manas Tiger Reserve, and to collaborate with Royal Manas National Park for Certification Courses on Plant and Diversity Survey Methodologies for the Forest Guards at the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics TM School.

Magical, exhilarating, thrilling and unique- to the say the least, sums up our trip to Royal Manas National Park. Immersing ourselves in the sights, sounds, textures, smells, motions, feelings and subtle messages disseminated by nature.

Stepping on the International Boundary of India and Bhutan- Mathanguri

Situated on the banks of the Manas River in the midst of the dense Manas forest, the Mathanguri forest lodge is completely disconnected from the rest of the world. We arrived at Mathanguri in the evening after a three hours’ drive from Guwahati. A blissful view from Mathanguri (Indian side), the beautiful landscape of Royal Manas National Park can be witnessed. All you could believe right there is that the whole existence is joyful.

A Panoromic View of the Bhutan hills and the Manas River

Adjacent to the Manas is the Bhutanese Counterpart, Royal Manas National Park.Without further delay, we headed towards the Royal Manas National Park Camp, taking the road backside of Mathanguri Lodge. Taking the rough road in the dark hours, we reached the river side. We crossed the fast-flowing river in the mechanized boat.

In the Heart of Nature: The Royal Manas National Park

Royal Manas National Park is the fourth largest park in Bhutan covering an area of 1057 km2. It shares its border with India’s World Heritage site, Manas Tiger Reserve, and is also connected by corridors to Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary and Jigme Singye National Park. Manas Park covers three districts: Zhemgang, Sarpang and Pemagatshel.

The spectacular view of the river flowing, the sound with a cuppa tea in our hand, burbling of the stream as it travelled along its bed, bubbling over rocks, the breath-taking view of the colourful flags blowing in the wind- it was indeed the happiest morning. The location ensures you remain completely cut off from the rest of the world.

This unique landscape of RMNP forms an important natural conservatory of the country representing outstanding habitat diversity ranging from tropical monsoon forest and subtropical forest to warm broad-leaved forest and the cool broad-leaved forest.

First started in 2013, 13 receiver’s stations are available till date.

Till now 104 chips have been inserted. By the end of this year they expect to get the results as they had downloaded the data three months back and sent it to USA for analysis.

The Golden Mahseer Project

A wonderful initiative by the Department of Royal Manas National Park – The objective of the Golden Mahseer Project is to see the migratory pattern of the Golden Mahseer; how far they can go upstream. Fishes are caught and pencil battery size chips are inserted and then are kept for 15 minutes in water until it is left unconscious and then its sense is back and released.

At the Royal Manas National Park, some receiver’s stations are kept; when the fish moves, the station receives the signal for the tagged fish.

Thus, one fish that gets caught right here in Manas moves up to 48 kms upstream. This helps in assessing the fish movement in the rapid river.The project has been sponsored by WWF Bhutan with the support from Fish and Wildlife Foundation of USA. The Forest Department has been trained by researchers from USA for the surgery. The surgery does not affect the fish morphology or behaviour. A very small fraction of the body is cut just to insert the pencil size battery. They also put some amnesia so there is no pain. Initially the validity of chip was for 3 years. In 2016, new chip was made that lasts for 10 years provided that the receiver’s station is functioning well and the fish is alive.

Basically, the fish that has been tagged has different code numbers. Whenever the fish passes through the receiver’s station the code is picked up by the signal. The station has plenty of data as the fish always moves up and down. After every 5 seconds the signal can be received by the station.

Specialthang Nature Trail

It was a leisurely trek in the forest in the early hours of the day in Royal Manas National Park. We walked here like we were kissing the earth, opening all our senses, absorbing the atmosphere of the forest and relishing the feeling of belonging, being part of this beautiful living and breathing world. Through the interactive nature walk of 8 km we experienced the thriving and threatened biodiversity of the region. And as early mornings are typically better for birdwatching- an excited stir goes up in the group as we spot different birds in our trail. Thereby, an unparalleled biological treasure in the Eastern Himalayas – Royal Manas National Park represents the largest example of tropical and sub- tropical ecosystems in Bhutan.

Tiger’s Pugmark seen during the nature trail
Route towards Specialthang Nature Trail

Courtesy –
Karishma Ahmed is a NaturenomicsTM Executive at Balipara Foundation. As part of the team, her efforts are centered on organizing forums & programmes, communication outreach strategy and to coordinate and manage communication & branding objectives of the Foundation. Her other interests and expertise include socio-economic research with a special focus on gender empowerment and Ecofeminism.



With the view to protect the Loktak lake from further deterioration, a mobile research laboratory has been launched to study and evaluate the ecosystem of the lake. On the occasion of its launch, Manipur Forest and Environment Minister Mr. Thounaoujam Shyam Kumar expressed his concern over the increased pollution penetrating in the lake and the need for floating laboratory of Institute of Bio resources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) to monitor its ecosystem.


With water quality machine installed, the boat is built to operate across the lake for twenty- four hours assessing the quality of water and thereby, has been made proficient to tap on the temperature scales, chemical composition apart from the rest. More than four months were spent by ISBD to shape the boat as remarked by IBSD Director Professsor Dinabandhu Sahoo.

Mr. Shyam Kumar observed that through this whole process of research, scientists have extracted alcohol from the grass present in lake and soon it would be sold, and also the possibility of making organic compost from phumdis has been recognised.In an effort to encourage tourism, it has been proposed to install mobile bio toilets at the Loktak lake.

As part of the task of saving the lake and the environment around it, the state and the central government would be working collectively, in addition to the Loktak Development Authority (LDA) and Institute of Bio- Resources and Sustainable Development (IBSD).



In an effort to sensitise the local communities lodged around Manas National Park toward environmental conservation, High Commissioner of New Zealand to India Ms. Joanna Kempkers employed a van as an educational and knowledgeable tool to build a relationship of concern and proximity among the community members toward their environment.

An engaging conservation tool developed by Aaranyak was put in place with the view to spread awareness about the need to conserve and the measures to be adopted to practise environmental conservation. Part of Manas Tiger Conservation Programme (MTCP), this vehicular initiative was undertaken to attract the communities and interact with them about the positives about conservation-based education. With striking outer design of the bus, beautified by the local flora and fauna of the ecosystem of that place, this van helps in catching the attention of the community members and enables an opportunity of interaction with other members surrounding the landscape.

Conceived as a mobile educatory tool, the van is well installed and equipped with the needful resources both theoretical and practical. This comprises banners, display tools, extensive audio-visual media accessories like projector, generator and more. For demonstration purpose, a small laboratory like equipment is also placed in the van. To make it convenient and accessible at all times, folding tents exhibiting educational materials are also carried for on the spot awareness.

To further the engagement streak with the target audience, a conservation theatre has been conceptualised too, showcasing popular folktales disseminating conservation messages in a modernised manner. Experienced theatre artists have been chosen to perform conservation narratives through its theatrical tangent. To expand its conservation-based education amid the youth and the young nurturers in school across Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam, this van helps in organising educative shows in school.

Aaranyak in collaboration with the Forest Department BTC, Panthera, Wildlife Conservation Trust, and Awely have continuously worked and strived toward conservation and community centric amelioration in the landscape of Manas.



Determined to ameliorate the living conditions of the communities living around and in the tea gardens of Assam, Twinings has committed to renew its partnership with Unicef for an additional five years of funding toward the communities of tea gardens in Assam. During their eight long years of association, this partnership has empowered more than 34,000 women by heeding to their vital health needs.

With more than 63 tea gardens in Assam, the communities living there are most vulnerable due to the lack of appropriate healthcare facilities to women, adolescents and children. Thus, Unicef -Twinings association has embarked on a social protection mission in the quest to uplift and improve the lives of women and children living around Assam’s tea gardens which are responsible for more than 50 percent of tea production in India.

It is reckoned that with better health services and safe environment around, the likelihood of children – both boys and girls going to school would increase, impacting their future in a positive way. Executive director of Unicef UK Mr. Mike Penrose expressed, “Children growing up in Assam’s highly marginalised rural tea communities face huge problems. They are vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking and abuse, often leave school early and suffer from poor health.”

The social upliftment being aimed through this collaboration involves active engagement with the tea producers and government at the local, state and central level.

With their support and collective efforts, Twinings – Unicef intends to promote kitchen gardens, educate the adolescents on better hygiene, sanitation and important life skills. Twinings CEO Mr. Bob Tavener expressed, “It includes advocacy with both state and national government, that should lead to long-term, tangible change for the communities living and working in the region and is an important part of driving positive change for the communities from which we source around the world.”

Continuing with its resolve to relieve the tea workers of Assam, the renewed partnership between the British owned Twinings and the Unicef is a testimony to this resolve and commitment driven towards improving the standard of living of the tea communities of Assam.



It’s a moment of pride and glory for the nine north-eastern states of India to be chosen for Smart Cities’ Project- an initiative of the Narendra Modi Government. On road to improve the lives of citizens, the smart city project focusses on the essentials of sustainability, inclusivity, decent infrastructural capacity and an enriched quality of life for all its citizens.

The nine North-Eastern states that have been made part of this project include- Pasighat and Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Guwahati (Assam), Imphal (Manipur), Gangtok and Namchi (Sikkim), Aizawl (Mizoram), Kohima (Nagaland), and Agartala (Tripura).

Talking about the major projects being taken up, now as an integral part of the Smart Cities Mission, Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri stated, “The Brahmaputra Riverfront development project alone cost Rs. 826 crores and there are 24 out of 464 projects costing Rs. 3,706.05 crores that can be rendered as impactful.”

Aizawl’s entry to the Smart Cities list will enable its urban mobility to improve, leading to decongestion on roads by way of multi-level car parking and ICT-based public service delivery. Known for being the first state advocating ‘no honking policy’ in India this move hopes to support Aizawl’s urban planning scenario in an enhanced and sustainable manner.

Pasighat was the first state from Arunachal Pradesh to be included in the ‘Smart Cities’ list, followed by Itanagar. Expressing his happiness at the inclusion of Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Mr. Pema Khandu remarked, “By selecting Itanagar, the Centre’s intentions in developing Arunachal Pradesh has become very clear and positive.”

Under the Smart Cities Mission, the city of Namchi would be catered with an Integrated Water Supply and Distribution System, apart from attending to its tourism and traffic management development. For the capital city of Sikkim, Joint Chief Town Planner, Nodal Officer- Smart Cities Mission, Urban Development and Housing Department, Government of Sikkim Mr. Navin Rai commented, “Gangtok is also working on an effective solid waste collection and management. The focus is also on the development of existing pedestrian walkways retrofitting with universal access design features and appropriate streetlights.”

Nagaland’s capital Kohima suffered from connectivity and topographical conditions, restraining it from being called a smart city. However, Central Government’s allocation of Rs.1,800 crores in supporting it become one has been admitted quite enthusiastically by the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi. Being inducted in the Smart Cities list in 2015, Imphal has been doled out an assistance of Rs. 106 crores by the Central Government.

An international interest has been shown in developing the city of Guwahati. South Korea would be investing in the city to turn it into a smart city. Under the Smart City Mission, urban flooding and congested traffic system in the city of Guwahati is intended to be managed, with the central assistance of Rs. 2,293.35 crores.

The capital city of Tripura is devoted to impart enriched quality of life to its citizens by preparing for infrastructural capacities through the support of this mission. LED lighting, disaster management and solid management are being taken care of in the initial phase of the Smart City project.

In line with the Centre’s ‘Act East Policy’, these north-eastern states would benefit from development opportunities, with massive investment and employment prospects. Being included as one of the 100 cities selected for smart cities mission, funds of Rs. 14,124 crores for 464 projects have been stipulated for their development.

India’s newest IRIS Species found in Manipur

Manipur IRIS

The popular flower of Manipur, fondly known as Kombirei by the locals of Manipur has been accorded with the ‘new species’ status-Iris Laevigata Fisch. Until now it had been mistakenly named as Iris Bakeri wall. Presently, it is declining from its native habitat.Manipur IRIS Species

The recent course of its name recognition and attention stemmed from its pictures being sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens in London where it was categorized as the critically endangered species.

Species like Iris Wattii, Iris Singuinea and Iris Kumaon also inhabit the state of Manipur. However, kombirei germinates from the wetlands of Lamphelpat and Yaralpat outskirting the town of Imphal.

This mauve-blue flower has a flowering period of about 15 days in April every year and annually, it also forms an integral part of the rich tradition of Manipur’s New Year celebration as well.

PM Narendra Modi Inaugurates India’s Longest Bridge in Assam

PM Narendra Modi

Commemorating the late Assamese music maestro Mr. Bhupen Hazarika while completing 3 years as the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi instituted India’s longest bridge connecting Dhola in Arunachal Pradesh from Sadiya in Assam. This infrastructural splendor is a jewel shining bright, remarking the pride of Seven Sister states.

The bridge would ensure quicker road connectivity and accessibility, mitigating the travel time by 4 long hours. Its three lane construction spans through a length of 9.15km over and above the grandeur of Brahamaputra’s tributary river-Lohit. This is a great step assuring productivity in fuel usage, cost efficiency and the possible hydropower projects paving way to economic remunerative gains.

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Assam, India

This architectural marvel’s strategic importance was a well – planned and prudent endeavor which commenced in 2011 with the vision to aid the military with facilitate passage to the border areas of China, more smoothly and seamlessly. The structure’s strength to endure heavy military tanks and machinery would serve as a huge asset in the coming times.

Mr. Modi’s interest in uplifting and ameliorating the economic and India’s P.M. Mr. Narendra Modi Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Assam, India social status of the ‘Seven Rainbow States’ and its citizens can be gauged through his determination to lead this project to its culmination. His efforts involved in integrating the north eastern states to mainstream India deserve appreciation.

Since years, the north eastern states have suffered alienation and non-inclusive treatment from the locals and the officials alike; inviting notions of disunity and disengagement .However, with the inauguration of India’s longest bridge; 30% longer than Mumbai’s Bandra -Worli sea link, Mr. Modi has embarked upon the path of unity in diversity, more aggressively than ever , with the trumpeting of economic and infrastructural resuscitation of the north eastern states which would act as the microcosm to India’s mighty potential to enhance its economic development and GDP growth.

NGT in conflict with Meghalaya Govt. Over Coal Mining

NGT Conflict

Rampant commercial mining with least adherence to healthy environmental impact has led National Green Tribunal (NGT) to probe into the matter and take strict actions, leading to time bound ban on coal mining activities in the state of Meghalaya.

This intervention by NGT is a result of reckless and unchecked transportation of coal extracts taking place on a massive scale, surpassing the limits imposed by the authorities. In its quest to ensure clean and sustainable environment to the citizens of the country, specifically the wellbeing of the laborers and the inhabitants residing around the coal activities laden areas, NGT has promulgated orders to the state to frame a mining policy that substantially caters to the protection of the environment.

However, the government of Meghalaya has challenged the ban on the grounds of Constitutional guidelines wherein the 6th schedule gives Meghalaya the choice to seek exemption from central laws due to its tribal status.

If the ban persists, the commercial gains accruing from these unlawful activities would surely get thwarted and arrested. The web of coal mine owners, politicians and the agents benefitting from the rush of money from these coal mines could disarray their settlement and change their dynamics during the time of election.

Meghalaya’s river Kopili has been severely damaged and has exhausted its biological productive strength owing to coal mining. Acidification of its water has hampered its marine life and rendered it unsuitable for human consumption.

Thus, it is imperative to comprehend the urgency that surrounds the issue and be addressed holistically and expediently. Scientific measures and significance of green life needs to be given precedence over illegal, unethical ways of mining and mindless deforestation.

National Green Tribunal operates through this empowering paradigm of clean and green ways, advocating development in a manner more scientific, sustainable and healthy.

North East India’s largest IT Hub opens in Tripura

CM Manik Sarkar
Tripura’s Chief Minister Mr. Manik Sarkar

Extolling Tripura’s industriousness in Information and Technology sector and it’s excellence in the endeavor of e-governance, Central government awarded the state with accolades and rewards.

With the potential to generate and boost employment opportunities for its IT schooled individuals, Northeast’s largest IT hub was inaugurated in Tripura by its Chief Minister Mr. Manik Sarkar, along with IT and Education Minister Mr. Tapan Chakraborty and Mr. Omkar Rai, Director General of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI).

The decision was rolled out with the enthusiastic vision to encourage prominent IT companies of India to commence their business; making utmost use of the beneficial services and holistic facilities that sprouted with the establishment of North East India’s sixth and largest IT hub, costing 50 crores.

Motivating and inspiring the new age spirit of entrepreneurship; beckoning start-up companies to the new haven of IT hub can be rendered as a positive and promising initiative, underscoring Government of India’s ideology of ‘Start-up’ culture and ‘Digital India’.

The effectual impact resulting in the export of software technology and furnishing e-governance accessibility to the door step of people is also an important aspect being looked forward to and awaits the test of time.

Tripura booming with English skilled IT educated youth and now supplemented with the upcoming IT hub in the North-East, would surely reap benefits from its close proximity with Bangladesh. Capitalizing on its qualified personnel and infrastructural development, Tripura could prove to be an asset for Bangladesh’s nascent IT industry, thereby driving economic enhancement for itself by doubling Bangladesh’s IT exports by 2017.

Tripura Revises IIPIS to attract investment and employment

Tripura Revises IIPIS

Tripura is transforming itself into an immensely valuable business and trade destination. Brimming with natural landscape and manmade marvels of infrastructures, its economy is exploding with the excitement of new possibilities and fruitful collaborations.

However, it is a matter of utmost importance to harness the transition from a remote, neglected region to becoming North East’s most productive and nationally rewarding state. Employment based subsidies, revamping investment topography, enriching IT and software segments and providing incentives for Agri-businesses are some of the prominent facets driving the state’s economic engine of growth.

With the recent revision in Industrial Investment Promotion and Incentive scheme (IIPIS) 2012, Tripura has accoutered infrastructural and logistic support, along with capital subsidy being raised from 30 to 35% of the fixed capital investment.

With dismissal of bottlenecks and ease in connectivity between India and Bangladesh, the investment windows have been generously flung open to welcome South Asian markets. Hassle-free operations have given Bangladesh the confidence to provide accessibility to its seaport at Chittagong and river port at Ashuganj.

Known for pragmatism and circumspect vision, Chief Minister Mr. Manik Sarkar has fueled the state of Tripura with investment beckoning opportunities, specifically for establishing small and medium scale units. The rich reservoir of natural resources like bamboo, rubber, tea and natural gas make the investment pool even more expansive and wide-ranging.