Work on the four laning of the busy Solan – Parwanoo highway racing to meet its punishing 30 months project deadline after work was started in September 2015 , award winning Geologist, Dr. Ritesh Arya managed to save a 20 million years old tree fossil on its route layout. In fact, had it not been for his timely intervention, the fossil located on the highway near Raboon, in Solan, could have been lost and damaged forever.
According to Dr. Ritesh Arya, many fossils have been found around Barog and Kasauli. But this recent specimen is the finest till date He said that this fossil could be associated with the theory of Paleo-flooding, which is related to global warming.
Dr. Arya is credited with drilling the highest borewell in the world, in Ladakh. He is fondly called the ‘incredible water man’, and is a much respected name in his field. He is also a Director at the Water and Geothermal Wing International Sustainable Energy Organization, ISEO, Geneva.
He explained that according to the Paleo-flooding theory, forests were uprooted and the trees were carried by the water current, and deposited along the river banks. The trees soon got covered by sand, and that helped in converting the trees into fossils.
On spotting this fossil tree in danger, Dr. Arya requested the road manager on duty, to protect the tree if possible, and he gladly obliged. The tree might have been saved temporarily, but he says that the only long term solution that will preserve these fossils, is to declare this area a Geoheritage site. It could then become of national importance and evidence of our past could be preserved, for the future generations to see.
Kasauli hills are in fact geologically 16 to 23 million years related, and have been mentioned by Medlicott too, who had discovered fossilized leaves in 1864.
Dr.Arya has disclosed that there have been many similar incidents where fossils have been discovered during construction and excavation projects. These fossils go to prove that the weather conditions in those times were much more humid and warmer. And the elevation from the sea level was at 300 meters, at that time. The present elevation of 2000 meters can be attributed to the fact that huge rivers and regions of low energy created floods, which caused mass destruction. The presence of these fossils also prove that the Himalayas were very young at that time, and were less than 20 million years old.