Barda sanctuary faces threat from mining
Times of India
At a time when the state government is mulling shifting lions from Gir to Barda wildlife sanctuary in Porbandar and Jamnagar, information sought under the Right to Information Act (RTI) revealed rampant mining activities in the surrounding areas.
The sanctuary is spread over 192.31 sq km falling in Jamnagar and Porbandar districts. According to Wildlife Protection Act (1972), mining is not permissible in 5 km periphery of the sanctuary.
An RTI application filed by Bhanu Odedara, a resident of Porbandar, has revealed how a number of mining licences have been given within the 5-km area of Barda wildlife sanctuary since 2002 till date.
As per the information provided by state geological department, 21 permissions for mining around the forest area have been granted since 2002 many of which were given without a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the state forest department. There are around 38 more applications pending.
Forest department officials in Barda said they have not issued any NoC to carry out mining operations near the sanctuary.
Odedara said he also sought information about name of the lease holders, locations and survey numbers as well as area of the mines. He also sought to know how many mines leases were given or renewed by mines department without the NoC of the forest department and the period of the leases.
Officials in the state environment and forest department said Barda is the only ecological spot in the state, where more than 650 flowering plants have been recorded. The sanctuary was also home to Asiatic lion in the past apart. Today, it houses sambar, chital and chinkara.
In 1979, the reserve forest of Barda was earmarked as a sanctuary. "There is a great danger to ecology of the sanctuary and environmental degradation of the area if these mining activities are not stopped. It will affect animals, too. If the government considers Barda as the second home of Asiatic lions, it should stop mining operations immediately," said Odedara.