Hills-Regeneration

About Braj - Areas of Work - Hills Regeneration

History and Relevance

The hills in Braj are considered sacred for many reasons. They are intricately woven into the mythology surrounding Krishna and the folklore of the locals. These hills are a part of the ecological and cultural heritage of the region.

There are numerous sacred hills in the Deeg and Kama Tehsil of District Bharatpur and in the Chhata Tehsil of District Mathura which boast of actual marks, such as footprints, and other relics of divine narratives. In total about 72 Sq kms of braj area has hills with a total slope area of about 17,800 acres.

In search of the ordinary masonary stone the mining lobby had been brutally destroying these hills. The Braj Foundation took the initiative to protect and restore their green cover.

Cultural significance of the Braj hills
stone

These hills are considered to be demigods personified. For example, Nandishwar Parwat in Nand Gaon is considered to be Lord Shiva himself; the four hills in Barsana named Bhramanchal are considered to be the four heads of Lord Brahma, the craetr in the Hindu trinity. In addition to this there are five magnificent Jain temples in the region.

Various scriptures such as the Shrimad Garg Sanhita, Shrimad Bhagwatam, Shri Braj Bhakti Vilas, have detailed descriptions of these hills and their spiritual importance. According to Srimad Bhagvatam, the major celestial mountains like Mainak Parvat, Nar Parvat, Narayan Parvat, Gandhmadan Parvat, Rohitanchal Parvat, wanted to see the transcendental leelas of Radha-Krishna and hence the Lord granted them permanent place in Braj as mountains.

These hills were claimed by Lord Krishna as his manifested form. According to legend when Krishna played his flute, he caused the hills to melt in Ananda, and the footprints of the Lord used to manifest on melting rocks. These prints can be seen at countless locations on the hills of Braj. There are several large rocks with significant historical backgrounds which lie within these mountains. For e.g. Khatshila was the rock on which Shri Krishna used to rest while the cattle grazed on the hills slopes. The biggest danger to these hills comes from illegal mining rampant in the region. The above mentioned Khatshila has been reduced to dust. Fisalini Shila – a natural slider where, according to legend, Krishna used to slide with his cowherd friends, now has a visible two inch wide crack.

The speed and magnitude of wanton mining has destroyed the holy hills of Braj which are termed as most scared in Hindu scriptures. Around the world, Braj is identified as a sacred place where Lord Krishna performed his various transcendental leelas. Millions of visitors come to visit this land, which for many is India's identity around the world. For NRIs in different parts of world the association with such a spiritual and charismatic land where Lord Krishna left his footprints, where lord Krishna performed those highly effusive leelas, has become the lifeblood of spiritualism.

hill_05 hill_06 hill_07
Impact of mining on the hills of Braj
hills_regeneration2

Heritage hills of Braj were being brutally destroyed for masonry stone and was having dire environmental consequences for both highlands and lowlands of Braj. Because mountain ecosystems are exceedingly fragile, and created over millennia, the destruction of mountain environments can be difficult and often impossible to reverse.

minning

The most serious environmental degradation issues in mining are:

  • Damage to water quality and quantity;
  • Loss of biodiversity and vegetative cover;
  • Atmospheric effects of pollution and global warming.
  • Contamination of water by mountain mine wastes can be especially serious because these mountains supply irrigating agriculture. Water pumped or drained from mines maybe highly acidic and polluted with heavy metals and chemicals.
  • Critical issue of environmental disaster due to seismic impact on earthquake fault lines that may cause natural calamities.

The School of Desert Sciences (SDS), Jodhpur, Rajasthan states “Massive unscientific mining has in the process eroded soil, caused extensive water loss, degraded forests, pastures and biodiversity in large parts of Rajasthan. It is the village forests, pales channels, water catchments and grazing grounds, the important community lands have become dumping grounds for mine wastes.”

The heritage hills of Braj act like a thick wall between the Thar desert of Rajasthan and Braj region (UP, Haryana and Delhi). These hills prevent the desert from spreading to Braj and beyond to the surrounding region. If this mindless destruction of hills was allowed to go omn then Braj would have turned into a desert in no time.

Ecological Importance of the Hills of Braj today

According to estimates of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) a quarter of the earth's land is threatened by desertification. Patches of land degraded by mining may develop hundreds of kilometers from the nearest desert. But these patches can expand and join together, creating desert-like conditions. Desertification contributes to other environmental crises, such as the loss of biodiversity and global warming.

The livelihoods of over 1 billion people in more than 100 countries are also jeopardized by desertification, as farming and grazing land becomes less productive. The planting of vegetation and fruit trees on the mountains, will produce income for the area.

For centuries the mountains of Braj prevented the desertification of the region. These hills have always given shelter to Brajwasis – the local inhabitants of Braj. They are central to the ecology of the region, in that they ensure appropriate rainfall, leading to a rich harvest round the year and thereby bringing prosperity to the entire Braj region.

Steps Taken by the Government against Mining

According to Dr. B Sen Gupta, Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board, “All the mining which is happening in Braj region is violating all the guidelines and regulations of the Central Pollution Control Board. The respective State Governments are fully responsible for this violation.”

The Government of Rajasthan banned mining activities within 500 mts of either side of 'Parikrima Marg'. Though it is an appreciable step but at the same time it has very limited effect as it applies to 17 mines in all, out of 294 mines. Remaining 277 mines are rampantly working. Further, the state government is giving absurd reasoning like ceasing of pity revenue generation and problem of unemployment for not banning the mining activities completely.

“The entire Braj region falls within the Taj Trapezium Zone where any kind of polluting activity which includes Mining and Stone crushing is totally banned. Whatsoever mining is happening in the region is a clear contempt of the Supreme Court of India.” Says Mr. M C Mehta, Eminent environmentalist & Lawyer, Supreme Court.

Development of Braj hills into pasture lands
hills_regeneration3

A team of experts from IIT Roorkee, NRSA (Hyderabad) and volunteers of Braj Rakshak Dal has extensively studied the hills of Braj. According to the study, the hills of Braj have a sloping area of around 72 sq. kms which translates into 17,800 acres. At an average cost of Rs 10,000 per acre these hills can be developed in pasture lands with an investment of Rs 18 crore out of which the majority of the amount would be spent on human labour. One acre land produces around 7,200 kg of grass annually. Thus, the hills of Braj would provide around 1.3 lakh ton of grass. Even by the rate of Rs 1.5 per kg this much grass would earn a revenue of Rs 19 crore 22 lakhs.

The foundation aims to take up this major project of restoring the hills. This will benefit the local community in a big way. The Gujarat based group Samast Mahajan is providing technical assistance to The Foundation for this project.

hills_regeneration2

The Braj Foundation is devising an extensive program to transform the 18000 acres of hilly terrain of Braj into green pasture lands and forests. Through this the Foundation is working towards meeting the challenges of global warming and climate change and thus tap carbon credits for its aforestory work. The Braj Foundation has done exemplary work on the aforestation of Ratnagiri Hill in Manpur, Barsana. The 150 acre Ratnagiri hill is being revitalized with the help of financial support from UNDP. Further, the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India has sanctioned a project for the regeneration of all the hilly region lying in the vicinity of Nandgaon and Barsana.

Contact us

  •   C-6/28, SDA,
    Hauz Khas,
    New Delhi - 110016
  •   View Map
  •   E-mail : info@brajfoundation.org
  •   91-11-2656-6800, 91-11-2651-9080
  •   9873946800