Land Stories 

Land used to be like one’s mother in India as more than 70% people were connected to land. Before the introduction of modern agricultural equipment like tractors, bullocks were used virtually for agricultural jobs like tilling the land, pulling the cart which the farmer used for bringing the produce and fodder home for cattle. Agriculture was completely manual and commerce was not in force. Farmer produced only enough for his family needs. Agriculture was dependent on the surface water available through rivers and rains.

Now the story is different. Even small farmers own the tractors which is economically not viable for small pieces of land. But it is a rat race. Many of them take the loans which become difficult to repay. A tractor can do many days work in a few hours. Need for manual labor arises only during the sowing of the crops. Bullocks have been faced out and are facing the same fate as the girls faced: they have become unwelcome.

Land is so much precious to the owner that hawks are on the outlook to grab any piece of it by hook or crook. Wars had been fought over the land. Most prominent example is the epic story of Mahabharata in which cause of the biggest battle between cousins was about the possession of land and women.

But as the cities are expanding at a furious rate, the value of the land is increasing. What the land can do to its owners will be illustrated by three scenarios.

Scenario No.1

State of Haryana was carved out from Punjab. It is a fact that people of Haryana were neglected by Punjab and so the state was separated from Punjab. But city of Chandigarh, which was the capital of Punjab was not given to any one of these states but made a union territory. It was also made the capital of both the states. The reality now is that the capital of both these sites is located nor in the centre but in one corner of the states.

As Chandigarh could not be expanded more, both Haryana and Punjab decided to construct the extensions of it on their own sides. Haryana thus acquired the agricultural land adjacent to Chandigarh. There were many villages in the area with farmers having small land holdings. All were given a meagre compensation. Overnight they become lost what they were dependent on. Being conversant with agriculture only, they faced difficulty to carry on their lives. They migrated here and there and on their lands mushrooms the concrete buildings with their owners being outsiders who could afford to buy them.

Scenario No.2

This one is a really interesting and shows how in same country but at different time points, the fortunes can turn for some. District of Mohali in Punjab was carved in such a way that it’s one side touched Panchkula district of Haryana. So some villages which though were very near to Panchkula became part of Punjab and their lands were not acquired by government.

These villages are situated near the ghaggar river and land is very poor for manual farming. The reason is that where the land is situated, the river flowed once and thus has left huge amounts of pebbles and sand covered with alluvial. Thus it is full of pebbles and bullocks were unable to till it.  Additionally there were uneven land surfaces which again posed challenges for farming.

Thus the land owners eked out a pathetic life. They lived hand to mouth. But somehow, barring a few they didn’t part off with their land which in any case no other farmer will buy due to poor quality.

But the demon of city expansion and opening of information technology parks and some pharmaceutical companies resulted in the large influx of people from interiors of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh,and so on resulted in the construction frenzy. There was no scope for expansion of Panchkula. So these adjoining areas became the focal points of building activity. Overnight, the land which was useless became the gold mine for the owners. They sold portions for a windfall. The farmers who have not seen money were dazed and it took them days to come back to reality from dream.

They constructed palaces for living. They became educated suddenly. As the money came, so we’re associations with powerful people like politicians. Some of them even began to grab the unoccupied or reserved lands. With a part of money bought tractors and modern equipment for remainder of land and procured cheaper land in the nearby districts. The elderly still can be identified to have done back breaking work but new generation is all like managers and leaders.

Scenario No.3

This story is similar to previous one but with small difference. It is from Sanand district in Gujarat. As the Tata nano car factory relocated here, the villagers nearby had windfall. Their used to be working as labors, peon and other lower rung jobs in the future Factories and manufacturing units for monthly wages like rupees 6000 to 15000 as their land was not fertile or due to lack of resources was not providing them with enough. Suddenly the arrival of entrepreneurs they became millionaires overnight by selling their land. After the initial excitement, Many of them have decided to carry on with those peanut wages jobs to keep themselves busy. More than hundreds of millionaires are working as helping hands in the factories there. The interest on their fixed deposits is enough for their requirements.

Thus as the Mark Twain once advised someone who came to him for investing the money to “invest in the land because they don’t make it anymore”, land can catapult your future.

2.6 Million Old Fossils found in Masol Village of Punjab

Shivalik mountains have been suggested to be 16 to 5 million years old. Much of present day Himachal Pradesh is situated in these hills. Punjab, Haryana plains sit just below these hills. This area has many perrenial rivers flowing through these states. Due to this, the area must have been rich in vegetation and plenty of water made which had made it an ideal place for many animals to inhabit it.

In fact, a research conducted jointly  by India-based Society for Archaeological & Anthropological Research (SAAR) and France’s National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) and department of prehistory of the National Museum of Natural History has found rich cache of diverse fossils of fauna which is being dated back to 2.6 millions years claiming them to be the oldest fossils shadowing the ones found in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia which are said to be 2.58 million years old.

The excavations were carried out in the Masol village of Mohali which is situated in the foothills of Shivalik.

In fact, more than 2,000 fossils of different herbivores have been found by the team during digging. These include Stegodon, an ancient elephant with tusks up to four metres, and Sivatherium, a giant giraffe.

Stegodon
sivatherium

The study adds that before this find, the oldest sites were in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia dating back to 2.58 million years.The team has also found 14 fossils of Leptobos, pre-historic ancestors of modern-day cows that weighed up to 320 kilogrammes

Leptobos
Leptobos

These rare fossils, excavated between September 2009 and March 2015, were bubble-wrapped and dispatched to a French lab.

The team says that it is a multi disciplinary effort involving specialists from the field of geology, geomorphology, sedementology , physics, palaeontology , taphonomy. The research paper on these fossils has been called “Taphonomical studies of the Plio-Pleistocene Transition Fauna of Masol in Shivalik Frontal Range, Northwestern India”. Due to the tectonic activity in this region, many fossils buried deeper have moved to shallower depths.

The scientists have already conducted paleo-magnetic dating electron spin resonance (ESR) tests on the fossils to know their age.

The Punjab government is planning to start eco-tourism trail of these villages in Shivalik Hills where fossils of wild camel, horses and bulls dating back to nearly three million years have been found. Besides the scenic beauty and wild life of the area being major attractions, Siswan Dam site is picnic spot and can be developed further as a tourist destination.

Siswan Dam

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Cactus Garden in Panchkula Haryana India

IMG_2155

Panchkula in Haryana India is a part of what is called Tricity. Tricity is Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab and Haryana and also a union territory. The adjacent areas of Chandigarh were developed following the pattern of Chandigarh. So there is Mohali in Punjab and Panchkula in Haryana adjoining the Chandigarh. These three comprise the Tricity.

There are many attractions both natural, historical, religious and man made in the tricity. One of these is Cactus Garden located in Sector 5, of Panchkula. It is Asia’s biggest garden devoted to rare and endangered species of Indian succulents, was named after its founder Dr J S Sarkaria.

The Cactus Garden is a regional collection of cacti grouped by growth forms and specific genera. While walking through the garden you will be able to view dozens of species. Popular groups are Opuntias (prickly pears and chollas), Ferocactus (barrels), other succulents include Agaves, Columnar cacti, Echinocereus (hedgehogs), and Mammillarias (pincushions). There are beautiful adenium plants also called desert roses which bear numerous beautiful flowers.

There are lawns, fountain and shady trees thoughtfully placed around the periphery of the garden. In short the garden is very lovely. It is just opposite the market where one can have meals, snacks and there are big showrooms of major companies.

The majority of cactus species are pollinated by numerous species of bees, a number of which specialize in cacti. Cactus bees are all solitary, but in some species the females congregate by hundreds of thousands at nesting sites to dig their individual nest burrows, which are densely concentrated in an area of a few thousand square feet. Cactus pollen is packed into these burrows to feed the grubs, which the parents do not tend. Some cacti are pollinated by birds, moths, or bats.

Here are some pictures we took in the garden.