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Impact of Parbati Hydroelectric Power Project Stage-II on the Interdependence of Ethno-Botanical Resources and the Inhabitants of the Parbati Valley in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh

Tanveer Kaur , Rajeev Kumar
Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2019, 7(4), 117-127. DOI: 10.12691/aees-7-4-1
Received August 11, 2019; Revised September 15, 2019; Accepted September 28, 2019

Abstract

The aim of the present study is to document ethno-botanical bio-diversity of Parbati Valley in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, interdependence of local communities with these resources and impact of Parbati Hydroelectric Project stage-II on both. The Parbati H.E. Project stage-II is a run of the river scheme proposed to harness hydro potential of lower reaches of the river Parbati with an installed capacity of 800 MW. The Parbati H.E. Project is part of the 2013 MW Parbati project, Asia’s biggest hydroelectric power project on Parbati river. During field trips to the study area between September 2017 and October 2018, a total of 218 plant species were inventoried belonging to 178 genera and 74 families used by the indigenous communities for life sustenance. Out of these, there are 166 medicinal plant species, consisting of 94 herbs, 47 shrubs and 25trees, which are used by local people for treatment of various diseases and ailments. During survey, plants species like Arnebia euchroma, Aconitum chasmanthum, Ajuga bracteosa, Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Picorhiza kurrooa and Atropa acuminate, Aconitum heterophyllum, Arnebia benthami, Fritillaria roylei, Angelica glauca have been found to be critically endangered due to construction of hydro-electric dam and allied activities. A perception survey was conducted in five sample adjoining villages namely Tosh, Tulga, Pulga, Sheela and Nakhtan with a population of 1826 villagers from 414 households to ascertain the impact of Parbati H.E. Project on their lives and biodiverity.

1. Introduction

The Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) covers a geographical area of 5,33,604 km2. A review of existing biodiversity information of IHR reveals that there are approximately 18,440. Out of these, the most prevalent species include 1748 medicinal plants 3,675 wild edibles 4,279 fodder species, 155 sacred plants and 118 essential oil plants with medicinal values 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. The Kullu district is centrally located in Himachal Pradesh. Physiographically, the forests of Kullu district are rich in endemic ethno-botanical resources 8. Since ages the native communities of Kullu have depended on the plant resources of the region for medicine, fuel, fodder, timber for house construction, furniture, charcoal, flavoring agent, dye, narcotics, agricultural tools, aromatic and religious purposes etc. For example, Cedrus deodara (deoda), Abies pindrow, Pinus roxburghii, Picea smithiana and Taxus wallichianana are widely used as timber for their durable wood quality for furniture and house construction. These communities have medical practitioners locally called as ‘Vaids’ who are the custodians of the traditional indigenous knowledge of ethno-botanical medicinal herb plants for the treatment of various ailments and chronic diseases. Since ages, the native tribes like the Gaddies and Kulluvians have lived in complete harmony with mother-nature. Many plant species are part of their folklore, religious beliefs and value system.

The development of hydro-electric power projects has created a negative impact on the rich ethno-botanically repositories of the Himalayan region 9, 10, 11, 12. The 800 MW Parbati Project stage-II is part of the 2013 MW Parbati Project on Parbati river. The Parbati river is proposed to be diverted with a concrete gravity dam at Pulga village in Parbati Valley through a 31.52 km head race tunnel and produce 3160.66 million units of electricity every year. This study aims to document the ethno botanically important plant species in the Parbati Valley and examine the impact of the Parbati H.E. Project stage-II on the interdependence of local communities with plant resources, especially the traditional knowledge about their medicinal properties.

2. Study Area

The study area is located between 31°20’25’’ to 32°25’0’’ N latitude and 76 0 56’30’’ to 77°52’20’’E longitude in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh covering a geographical area of 5503 sq. km (Figure 1). Kullu district is bound by Mandi district in the south-west, Kangra district in the north-west, Lahaul and Spiti district in the North and by Shimla district in the South. The climate of the study area is typically temperate, sub-tropical, alpine and sub-alpine 13. Because of its varying altitudinal gradient (1100-5500 m) and climatic conditions, the Parbati Valley harbors a variety of endemic plant species. The reserve forests spread over an area of 15618 ha, while the protected forests constitute 193,495 ha of land. Unclassified forests account for 146,580 ha 14.

3. Materials and Methods

The flora of the project area was inventoried in three seasons: October-December 2017 (winter season), May- June 2018 (summer season) and July-September 2018 (heavy rainfall). The plants were recorded in quadrats along transects. A total of 35 randomly selected 10 × 10 m quadrats, covering the impacted area of the Parbati H.E. Project stage-II, were positioned along the target area to capture plant distribution in forest types. Quadrat size was determined using the species area curve method 15. Transects of length 150m and width 5m were established between quadrats. Five villages named Tulga, Sheela, Pulga, Tosh and Nakhtan located in close vicinity of Parbati H.E. Project stage-II were identified to document primary data based on perception survey about the impact of the project on their lives. Participatory methods and Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) were used to collate, confirm, and validate ethno-botanical information during the field visits 16.

A total of 136 key persons were interviewed from these villages to collect data through semi-structured questionnaires, descriptive methods, on-spot interviews and informal group discussions. The information on traditional knowledge about medicinal plants was gathered from local healers. Their perceived threats were then discussed with the officials of the Divisional Forest Officer 17, 18. During the study, photographs and field notes were prepared to verify and analyze the raw information. The specimens having medicinal properties were identified with the help of reference collections and expert knowledge 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. The secondary data was generated from secondary (desk) reviews from existing literature on the phyto-diversity distribution in Parbati Valley on use of plant resources as medicine and various other purposes. Important medicinal plants have been arranged in botanical alphabetical order followed by ailment treated and their mode of application.

4. Status of Commonly Used Bio-Diversity by Local Communities of Parbati Valley

On the basis of field survey of study area during different seasons of the year 2017-2018, a total of 218 plant species were identified belonging to 74 families and 178 genera. Classification of plant species was carried out as per their usage by the local communities for medicinal purposes (121 species), timber (23), fodder (17), essential oil (12), fuel/charcoal (11), wild edibles (10), aromatic (09), dye/coloring agent (07) and other purposes namely ornamental/religious purpose (08). Percentage-wise distribution of ethno-botanical resources as per their utility is shown at Figure 2. It is seen that 55% of these plant species are used for medicinal purpose, 10% each as timber, 8% as fodder, 6% as essential oils, 5% as charcoal, 4% as wild edibles and aromatics each, 3% as coloring agent and various other purposes each.

5. Ethno-botanical Resources used for Medicinal Purposes by the Local Communities of Parbati Valley

The natives of Parbati Valley depend largely on natural plant resources for treatment of various diseases and ailments by the local medical practitioners called Vaids, who are custodians of traditional knowledge. These sacred groves are rich in rare and endemic species which are protected by the local people due to their belief in the deities of the forests 31. Out of the total of 218 widely used plant species identified in the survey area, 121 plant species are used for treatment of various diseases and ailments. These plants have been categorized as trees (23), herbs (67) and shrubs (31). On the basis of usage of plant part, it was found that 30% plants are used for their roots and rhizome, 25% are used as whole plant, 22% for their leaves, 12% for fruits& flowers, 6% for seeds and 5% for their stem and bark (Figure 3). These plant parts are used to prepare decoction, herbal oil, crushed leaf paste. Other methods include grinding, extraction to make powder and aromatic essence. Some of the widely used plant species, along with their mode of application, are listed in Table 1 below:

5.1. Use of Plant Species as Timber, Fodder, Fuel and Other Purposes for Life Sustenance by Local Communities of Parbati Valley

The preferred species used by the local people as timber are Abies pindrow, Aesculus indica, Alnus nepalensis, Betula utilis, Rhododendron arboretum, Rhus succedanea, R. wallichii, Cedrus deodara, Celtisaustralis, Cupressus torulosa, Fraxinus floribunda, Juglans regia, Pinus roxburghii, Quercus dilatata, Q. leucotrichophora, Q. semecarpifolia, Q. semecarpifolia, Toona serrata etc. These are used to make farm implements, kitchen ware, furniture items, wooden handicraft, handlooms etc.

During the survey, it was found that out of total of 414 houses, 307 houses (75%) have used timber as a main component for house building, 17% households used timber/mud blocks and stones and 6% of the houses have been constructed using timber/concrete and steel. Only 2% of the houses were made of concrete (Figure 4 & Figure 5).

The villagers use traditional knowledge to make charcoal from Trema orientalis of the Cannabaceae family of plants found in the forests. The predominant source of energy for 78% households is charcoal/fuel wood, 12% households rely on solar energy, 7% households are dependent on kerosene and only 3% rely on LPG (Figure 6 and Figure 7).

The most common species of plants used as fodder for livestock is Aesculus indica (Khanor), Acer caesium, Kydia calycina, Ehretia laevis, Bombax ceiba.The artisans of Kullu Valley are known for handloom products and wood crafts like warm local tweeds, pattus, muflars, slippers of grass, straw carpets, mattresses, woolen quilts, hand knitted woolens, baskets called ’Kilta’ made from Thamnocalamus sparsiflorus, holy rope called ‘Band’, Bzetas (also a type of rope) made from Giradinia diversiflora. Fiber extraction from Populus deltoids is used to make long threads called ‘Niwar’. The study reveals that 26% households are engaged in small scale/medium scale handloom work and wooden handicraft.

6. Impact of Parbati Hydroelectric Project Stage-II on Bio-diversity and lives of Local Communities

6.1. Impact on the Bio-diversity

During construction of Parbati HE project a total of 11281 trees were affected by projects activities in Sainj, Malana and Parbati areas. Out of these, 8124 trees were felled/damaged during Parbati H.E. Project stage-II. The highest number of felled trees/damaged species was for Populus ciliate 36% (2927), followed by Malus pumilus 31.6% (2564) and Cedrus deodara 5.1% (416). The other adversely affected species included, Abies pindrow, Acer cappadocium, Aesculus indica, Betula alnoids, Cornus macrophylla, Juglan regia, Lonicera angustifolia, Lyonia ovalifolia, Morus serrata, Olea ferrugenea, Persea duthiei, Picea smithiana, Pinus roxburghii, Pistacia integerrima, Pyrus pashia, Quercus floribunda, Quercus glauca, Quercus leucotrichophora, Rhododendron arboretum, Rhus cotinus, Rhus javanica, Robinia pseudoacacia, Salix tetrasperma, Symplocos chinensis, Taxus baccata and Ulmus wallichiana 32.

During the perception survey among 414 households consisting of 1826 people in five sample villages of Tosh, Tulga, Pulga, Sheela and Nakhtan, it was found that a number of water sources which formed a network of perennial water source for the local communities, have now dried up. With the diversion of Nallahs for the project the traditional system of wheat grinding locally called, ‘Haat Gharat’ located near Pulga and Tulga villages have now become dysfunctional. Another region specific edible plant species Morchella escuenta (locally called Gucchi) has become almost inaccessible. The yield of major seasonal crops like maize, apples, wheat, apricot, plums and khumanis reduced considerably with change in the fertility of the soil.

7. Recommendations

Wild edible plant resources play a crucial role in providing local people with a number of vital nutritional elements such as vitamins, amino acids and minerals that are required to maintain good health and promote immunity against infection under harsh environment conditions 33. In this context, to minimize the degradation to bio-diversity with the construction of HE projects, it is recommended that Cumulative Assessment Groups drawn from autonomous independent bodies such as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Wildlife Institute of India, National Green Tribunal (NGT), Indian Institute of Soil Science should be constituted to ensure proper implementation of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governing these projects. At the embryo stage, focus groups drawn from local communities should be formed and their views must be embedded in the project document. The degraded sites of the H.E. Projects areas should be rejuvenated through plantation of tussock-forming grasses initially and later on through plantation of seedlings and plantlets of species. Bio-diversity Management Committees (BMCs) at local level should be formed. People’s Bio-diversity Registers (PBRs) at village level, Panchayat level, and Block level should be prepared in the surrounding areas of the project.

8. Conclusion

In many countries of the world particularly in Asia, Central/South America and Africa, efforts have been made to replace traditional biomass energy with hydro potential for the socio-economic development of the people. In our country, Himachal Pradesh has hydro-power potential of 23000 MW which is about 15.83 per cent of our nation’s total hydro-power potential. However the construction of hydro-power projects cause serious degradation to the bio-diversity and ecological balance of the region due to construction related activities. The traditional knowledge of the local communities about ethno-botanical resources and their use for life sustenance is under threat. It is imperative that degradation to the plant resources during the construction of hydro-electric projects is minimized and the affected zones are rejuvenated to safeguard the interests of local communities.

Acknowledgments

Rajeev Kumar is thankful to DST, SERB/F/8171/2015-16 as well as UGC (F. No. 194-2/2016 IC) for providing financial support. Ms. Tanveer Kaur is also thankful to village head of Barsheni (Mr. Hemraj), Civil Society i.e. HIMDHARA and National Hydroelectric Power Cooperation (NHPC), Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Gurdev Singh Mongia (Department of Botany, Panjab University, Chandigarh) for plant authentication and for providing voucher numbers.

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In article      
 
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[21]  Aswal, B.S. and Mehrotra, B.N. Flora of Lahaul-Spiti. (A Cold Desert in Northwest Himalayas). Dehradun: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, 1994.
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[22]  Sharma, M. and Singh, H. Phytogeographic Observations on the Flora of Chamba District (Himachal Pradesh) Part-II. Neo Botanica 23, 103-12. 1996.
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[23]  Dhaliwal, D.S., Sharma, T.A., Saini, S.S. and Trivedi, M.L. Phytogeographic comments on the flora of Kullu district. Current researches in plant sciences. Dehradun: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh. 1, 169–75. 1997.
In article      
 
[24]  Singh, S.K., Rawat, G.S. Flora of Great Himalayan National Park; Himachal Pradesh. Dehradun: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, 2000.
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[25]  Chauhan, N.S. Potential of Aromatic Plants Flora in Himachal Pradesh, Indian Perfumes 33, 118-22. 1989.
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In article      
 
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Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2019 Tanveer Kaur and Rajeev Kumar

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Tanveer Kaur, Rajeev Kumar. Impact of Parbati Hydroelectric Power Project Stage-II on the Interdependence of Ethno-Botanical Resources and the Inhabitants of the Parbati Valley in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Vol. 7, No. 4, 2019, pp 117-127. http://pubs.sciepub.com/aees/7/4/1
MLA Style
Kaur, Tanveer, and Rajeev Kumar. "Impact of Parbati Hydroelectric Power Project Stage-II on the Interdependence of Ethno-Botanical Resources and the Inhabitants of the Parbati Valley in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh." Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences 7.4 (2019): 117-127.
APA Style
Kaur, T. , & Kumar, R. (2019). Impact of Parbati Hydroelectric Power Project Stage-II on the Interdependence of Ethno-Botanical Resources and the Inhabitants of the Parbati Valley in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 7(4), 117-127.
Chicago Style
Kaur, Tanveer, and Rajeev Kumar. "Impact of Parbati Hydroelectric Power Project Stage-II on the Interdependence of Ethno-Botanical Resources and the Inhabitants of the Parbati Valley in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh." Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences 7, no. 4 (2019): 117-127.
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  • Table 1. Some of the widely used plant species by the local communities for medicinal purposes and their mode of application
[1]  Khoshoo, T.N., Plant diversity in the Himalayas: Conservation and Utilization. Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant Memorial Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Almora., 1992.
In article      
 
[2]  Singh, D.K. and Hajra, P.K., Floristic Diversity in changing Perspectives of Biodiversity status in the Himalaya, British Council Division, British High Commission, New Delhi, 1997, 23-38.
In article      
 
[3]  Samant, S.S., Dhar, U. and Palni, L.M.S, Medicinal Plants of Indian Himalaya: Diversity Distribution Potential Values. Nainital: GyanodayaPrakashan, 1988.
In article      
 
[4]  Samant, S.S. and Dhar, U. Diversity, Endemism and Economic potential of wild edible plants of Indian Himalaya. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 4, 179-91, 1997.
In article      View Article
 
[5]  Samant, S.S. and Pant, S. Diversity, Distribution pattern and Traditional knowledge of sacred plants in Indian Himalayan Region. Indian Journal of Forestry 26 (3), 222-234. 2003.
In article      
 
[6]  Samant, S.S. and Palni, L.M.S. Diversity, Distribution and Indigenous uses of essential oil yielding plants of Indian Himalayan Region. Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science 22, 671-687. 2001.
In article      
 
[7]  Samant, S.S., Shreekar, P., Singh, M., Lal, M., Singh, A., Sharma, A. and Bhandari, S. Medicinal plants in Himachal Pradesh, North Western Himalaya, India. The International Journal of Biodiversity Science and Management 3, 234-251. 2007.
In article      View Article
 
[8]  Sharma, P.K., Chauhan, N.S. and Brij, L. Observations on Traditional Phyto-therapy among the inhabitants of Parvati Valley in Western Himalaya, Indian Journal of Ethnopharmacology 92 (2-3), 167-176. 2004.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[9]  Gaur, R.D. Flora of the district Garhwal, North-West Himalaya (ethnobotanical notes). Transmedia, Srinagar, 1999, 184.
In article      
 
[10]  Kanwal, K.S. and Joshi, H. Floral diversity assessment in four forest types of Garhwal Himalaya, Uttarakhand. International Journal of Plant Research 23 (2), 76-85. 2010.
In article      
 
[11]  Panwar, S., Aggarwal, D.K., Negi, G.C.S., Kanwal, K.S., Sharma, V., Lodhi, M.S., Singh, J. and Bhatta V. Impact assessment of a Hydroelectric project on the flora in the Western Himalayan region based on vegetation analysis and socioeconomic studies. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 53, 907-923. 2010.
In article      View Article
 
[12]  Pandit, M.K., Grumbine, R.E. Potential effects of ongoing and proposed hydropower development on terrestrial biological diversity.Indian Himalayan Conservation Biology 26 (6), 1061-1071. 2012.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[13]  Sharma, P. and Samant, S.S. Impacts of hydroelectric power projects on the floristic diversity in Himachal Pradesh, Northwestern Himalayas. Tehri. New Delhi, 2016.
In article      
 
[14]  Sharma, P.K., Chauhan, N.S., Lal, B., Husaini, A.M., Silvia, J.A.T. Conservation of Phyto-diversity of Parvati Valley in North-Western Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh, India. Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 47-63. 2010.
In article      
 
[15]  Zobel, D.B., Jha, P.K., Yadav, U.K. and Behan, M.J. A practical manual for the ecology. Kathmandu, Nepal. Ratna Book Distributors, 1987.
In article      
 
[16]  Martin, G.J. Ethnobotany: A methods manual. London, U.K: Chapman and Hall, 1995.
In article      View Article
 
[17]  Jain, S.K. and Sastry, A.R.K. Threatened Plants of India state- of- art Report.Botanic survey of India, Howrah, 48. 1980.
In article      
 
[18]  Rao, R.R. and Mahendra, B.S. Biodiversity in India, 315. 1994.
In article      
 
[19]  Collett, H., Simlensis, F. and Thacker, S. Dehradun: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh; & Co Calcutta and Shimla, ReprinteD, 1971.
In article      
 
[20]  Chowdhery, H.J. and Wadhwa, B.M. Flora of Himachal Pradesh, Calcutta: Botanical Survey of India, 1984, 1-3.
In article      
 
[21]  Aswal, B.S. and Mehrotra, B.N. Flora of Lahaul-Spiti. (A Cold Desert in Northwest Himalayas). Dehradun: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, 1994.
In article      
 
[22]  Sharma, M. and Singh, H. Phytogeographic Observations on the Flora of Chamba District (Himachal Pradesh) Part-II. Neo Botanica 23, 103-12. 1996.
In article      
 
[23]  Dhaliwal, D.S., Sharma, T.A., Saini, S.S. and Trivedi, M.L. Phytogeographic comments on the flora of Kullu district. Current researches in plant sciences. Dehradun: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh. 1, 169–75. 1997.
In article      
 
[24]  Singh, S.K., Rawat, G.S. Flora of Great Himalayan National Park; Himachal Pradesh. Dehradun: Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, 2000.
In article      
 
[25]  Chauhan, N.S. Potential of Aromatic Plants Flora in Himachal Pradesh, Indian Perfumes 33, 118-22. 1989.
In article      
 
[26]  Chauhan, N.S. Medicinal Orchids of Himachal Pradesh. Journal of Orchids Society of India 4, 99-105.
In article      
 
[27]  Chauhan NS, Medicinal Aromatic Plants of Himachal Pradesh. New Delhi: Indus Publishing Corporation, 1999.
In article      
 
[28]  Samant, S.S. and Pant, S. Diversity, Distribution pattern and conservation status of plants used in liver diseases/ailments in Indian Himalayan Region. Journal of Mountain Science 3, 28-47. 2006.
In article      View Article
 
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