Maharashtra: Projects Passing Through Eco-Sensitive Zones On Hold, Says CM Devendra Fadnavis
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis informed on Wednesday, December 5 that ratification of several infrastructural projects that are set to pass through protected areas and eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) are to be put on hold till an expert panel studies their impact on the wildlife habitats of the areas in question.
Infra development on hold
Some of the infrastructure development projects include the controversial Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train line among others. Other proposals include the 126-km Virar-Alibaug multi-modal corridor, the Railways’ dedicated freight corridor, a natural gas pipeline and a petroleum products pipeline and bridge, reported The Hindustan Times.
Reportedly, a committee has been set up under additional chief secretary, Praveen Pardeshi which will study the impact of development projects passing through TWLS and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). It will also figure out ways to mitigate them.
Additionally, the wildlife board, against the backdrop of the killing of T1 Tigress Avni in Yavatmal forest, has announced that it would frame policies to tackle the growing problem of man-animal conflict in the state. The state government reportedly has decided to come up with specific rules for the state which goes beyond the guidelines. The policy will fix the role of various stakeholders to reduce conflicts between animals and man.
When the proposals for the developmental projects were being tabled, the wildlife board took the decision to divert land in the ESZs.
Committee has been formed
Deepak Apte, director, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Anish Andheria of Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), and Kishore Rithe are the members of the committee.“The committee will study how much funds will be required to put in place mitigation measures and how to fix responsibility on the agencies involved,” an official was quoted as saying. The committee will constitute wildlife experts and representatives from an NGO that will be approved by the Supreme Court. The committee will interact and coordinate with all state and Central agencies to arrive at a possible conclusion.
“We will make sure that the forest areas around the park are not shortchanged, and both the CM and the forest minister agreed,” said Anish Andheria of WCT. Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that it is only after the committee okays the plan will the infrastructural projects begin.
To facilitate the process, WCT carried out a camera-trapping exercise for wildlife corridors in a reserve where seven road projects have been proposed. They showed a presentation of the crisscrosses and intersections which can prove to be dangerous for wildlife movement.
The Logical Indian take
India’s growing population has confined wildlife to the ever-shrinking forests and grasslands. Reports have come out which show that between the years 2014-2017, one person lost his/her life every day because of the man-animal conflict.
The growth of human settlement is considered an economic development, but it is the animals who are paying a heavy price as they are competing with humans for food and shelter. Wildlife experts have said that territorial animals lack space within reserves and their prey also lack enough fodder to survive on. This forces wild animals to move out and venture close to human habitation in search of food.
While Tigress Avni could not be saved, it is good to see a state government which is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that the animals stay well-protected.