Fourten months into his posting as the 57th District Magistrate of Dehradun, reckoned as one of the most challenging postings in the state, Dr BVR Chandra Purushottam has more than proved his mettle. Dehradun was never an easy district to manage; its problems, over the years, have accentuated manifold, particularly since its anointment as the state’s ‘interim capital’. However, this 36-year old Andhra native has manfully tried to sort out some of them and has even won plaudits for his hands-on approach. The problems are far too many for a single individual, even if he is the district magistrate. He personally supervised for two days the removal of garbage from the Chakrata Road and other localities that were on the royal route of Prince Charles and wife Camilla during their recent visit to Dehradun. However, the mounds of garbage have returned with a vengeance, and much worse. Dehradun’s problems are systemic and cannot possibly be solved by sporadic or piecemeal forays.
In the aftermath of the mid-June flash floods and landslides that devastated the Kedarnath valley and many other areas in the state, Purushottam was handpicked as the Disaster Relief Commissioner of Garhwal. In the 26 days that he spent there, Purushottam visited 10 seriously affected villages and interacted in person with the victims of the flash floods and learned of their problems. It was his soothing touch and humane approach that served as a healing balm both to the sufferers and the bereaved.
Very recently, he lent both his personal and official backing to the Mountain Biking Race, organised jointly by the Mountain Track Biking Association (MTBA) of Uttarakhand and Cycling Federation of India (CFI). This first ever rally in Uttarakhand was a big success. Purushottam had, incidentally, expressed his wish at the Writers’ Mountain Festival in Mussoorie to write a book. One would not be surprised if he comes out with a book in the not too distant a future.
Now, this enthusiastic district magistrate has set his heart on making the Mussoorie Winterline Carnival 2013 a success, which will be held from 27 to 30 December, 2013. In a chat, Dr Purushottam talks about his latest passion.
What exactly is the prime objective of the Mussoorie Winter Line Festival 2013?
The natural catastrophe of 16 June dealt a severe blow to the tourism based economy of Uttarakhand. With the help of this carnival, UttarakhandGovernment is showcasing to the world that Uttarakhand has risen and requesting the tourists to experience the shine of the divine land “Devboomi”. The theme of our carnival is “Resilient Uttarakhand” and our slogan is “Rise and Shine, Experience the Divine”.
Who conceptualised the idea? In what way is it different from the earlier Mussoorie Winter Festivals?
Since the major chunk of the Uttarakhand economy is based on Tourism, the conceptualisation of this idea was inevitable. The idea was given final shape by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand, after considering the apprehensions and grievances of Mussoorie’s local people, shopkeepers, traders’ association and Hotel Association.
It is different from other Mussoorie winter festivals in many ways:
• For the first time, the Mussoorie Winterline is being promoted. It is the unique phenomenon of nature which appears from mid October to mid February. It is one of the most captivating sights of the mountainous regions that have a long valley extending beyond them to the west. Mussoorie is truly blessed by nature and shares this rare distinction with Switzerland.
• Reports of the disaster on television channels, the nature's fury have scared people. Mussoorie that did not have to bear the brunt of the disaster have witnessed a steep decline of 75 per cent in tourist traffic, post the June floods with fear-stricken visitors cancelling their trips to this tourist hotspot. This carnival is to spread the message that “Come visit Mussoorie: Its safe and Beautiful”
• This time, Ministry of Tourism is organising the “Mussoorie Winterline Carnival”. This four day carnival will be loaded with not just cultural events but also with adventurous events. Adventurous events like Walkathon, Biking, Cycling, roller skating, fun games, etc. This carnival will help tourists to re-explore the Majestic Queen of the Hills. Through this carnival we will cheer the spirit of Uttarakhand and celebrate the triumph of Uttarakhand.
You had indicated in your press conference in Delhi that the festival was being organised by Mussoorie Nagar Palika. However, the advertisement in the newspapers today indicated that it was being sponsored by Uttarakhand Tourism.
There should be no confusion as brochures clearly indicate that it is being organised by Ministry of Tourism & Culture along with City Board, Mussooorie.
What is the significance of the rare meteorological phenomenon called Winterline? And what is so unique about it?
The unique phenomenon of nature, visible only at Mussoorie in India, is the `Winterline’. It can be viewed when the setting sun drops behind the imaginary horizon overlooking the Doon Valley. The horizon is a mauve and grey colored strip with yellow and orange colored line at the upper end of the strip. The myriad colors make for a pretty picture that leaves the spectator spellbound. The winter line appears for five months from mid October to mid February. It is one of the most captivating sights of the mountainous regions that have a long valley extending beyond them to the west. Mussoorie is truly blessed by nature and shares this rare distinction with Switzerland.
The primary object obviously is to attract a larger number of tourists. A major problem in Mussoorie always pertains to parking of vehicles. How do you hope to meet this challenge?
Parking of vehicles and traffic is one of the major challenges. The district administration, police and Nagar Palika Mussoorie are all geared up to face this challenge. Anti-encroachment drives, traffic timings on Mall Road, new sites for parking, etc., are some of the initiatives.
Another problem is about the scarcity of water and the bad condition of the roads. Is there any short term solution?
All the concerned departments like Jal Sansthan/Jal Nigam, PWD, Nagar Palika, etc., are instructed to do the needful. At the same time, the district administration is monitoring their progress on weekly basis.
Are the Mussoorie hoteliers actively participating in this Winterline Carnival and what will be their main contribution?
Mussoorie town is full of energy and so are its people. Local people, traders or Hotel Association, almost everybody is contributing to the carnival.
The Hotel Association, in particular, is contributing by providing special discounts during this carnival.
Mussoorie hoteliers are notorious for “making hay while the sun shines”. Will they curb this trait if a very large number of tourists arrive since attracting more tourists is its principal objective? Will the Hotelier Association fix and DISPLAY their discounted winter rates irrespective of the rush?
Yes. The Hotel Association will be asked to the needful.
Who are the singers likely to perform live? What will be the other highlights during the 3-day Carnival?
It’s a four day event from 27 to 30 December.
Shivamani, the world famous percussionist along with Ravi Charry and Stephen Devassy will inaugurate the event. This will be followed by live performances by tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh, singers like Shibani Kashyap, Narendra Singh Negi and Pritam Bhartwan. The carnival will end with the performances of famous singer Arijit Singh of Aashiqui 2 fame along with Bobby Cash.
How will you be promoting the Winterline Carnival in India and abroad?
We are promoting our event through advertisements in print and electronic media, radio jingles, press conferences, hoardings, kiosks, brochures, etc. Establishing contacts with travel agencies and hoteliers. Our website for promotion: www.mwlc.in along with social networking sites like facebookgoogle+.
What is your budget for this? And finally who are the principal sponsors of the Carnival?
Our proposed budget is around Rs 68 lakhs and till date the principal sponsors are GMVN, UJVNL, SIDCUL, ONGC, MDDA and SBI.