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Plans on for Rhodo Festival

Tezpur, Aug. 26: The Arunachal Pradesh government is planning a rhododendron festival in a big way during April-May when the flowers bloom, said Tawang deputy commissioner Abhishek Dey.

Rhododendron trees are grown for their spectacular flowers. The word rhododendron means red tree in Greek, referring to the red flowers commonly associated with the species.

The first ever Tawang Rhodo Festival 2014 was organised at Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh from August 23 till yesterday to create awareness on sustainable development in the fragile eco-system of Arunachal Himalayas.

The divisional forest officer of Tawang, Pradeep Ch. Wahule, said although no detailed survey has been carried out, over 50 important species of rhododendron are found in Tawang region.

As part of the border area development programme, the three-day festival was organised by the district administration in cooperation of the NGOs and travel and tour operators, keeping in view the necessity of conserving the unique eco-system of the eastern Himalayas.

As part of the festival, a trekking expedition up to the Indo-China border region was conducted with the help of the National Institute of Mountaineering and Adventure Sports, forest department, department of tourism and tour operators, led by David Sangtham of Tribal Discovery Tours and Travels.

Last year, a team of botanical experts carried out explorations in West Siang district’s remote Mechukha valley, a few kilometres away from the China border, and found the rare and endemic flower which has been named Rhododendron Mechukae after its place of origin.

“The tree, 5-10 metres in height, grows in semi-dense temperate forests along with other known species of rhododendron and shrubs at an altitude of above 2,400 metres. It is common there but the habitat is limited to the hillsides of Mechukha area,” a scientist said.