Girnar ropeway could harm vulture conservation
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
The Girnar ropeway project has come under opposition from several wildlife experts as they fear that it could have an adverse effect on the vulture conservation programme.
Officials in the forest department said that the cliffs of Mount Girnar provide nesting and roosting sites to three species of endangered vulture species. Apart from vultures, the area has been declared a sanctuary which has a sizeable population of lions.
Recently, a meeting was held in Junagadh and a representation was sent to all officials concerned including conservator of forest. Dr Nishit Dharaiya, a professor of life sciences and the person behind the representation said, "Vultures are listed as schedule-I wildlife and due to drastic decline of its population in the last decade, there is an urgent need to protect them." He said that vultures demand protection equivalent to lions, tigers and rhinoceros. Long-billed vultures, whiteromped vultures and the very rare king vultures are reportedly found near Girnar.
The, construction of a ropeway, movement of trolleys throughout the day and waste and noise generated in the construction and operation phases will surely affect this critically endangered species. Quoting the report of Dr Bharat Jethva, a former scientist from GEER foundation, Gandhinagar, Dharaiya said there are 121 vultures and 30 nests in this area and construction of this ropeway would hinder conservation efforts.
Dharaiya said that the Environment Impact Assessment study has been carried out in summers in the region. Girnar, a dry deciduous forest, is generally found barren and dry in summer season, so dense patches of the forest also look dry during this time. It is also known that there are several endangered and rare seasonal plants, migratory birds that appear in monsoon, post-monsoon and winter seasons, therefore the EIA study should be conducted in other seasons and impacts of rope way project on such seasonally appearing species needs to be studied in detail.
Kishore Kotecha of Wildlife conservation trust says that not just vultures but a recent census of the Asiatic lions in Sanctuary showed nearly 35 lions here. So it is noteworthy that the lions have now adapted Girnar forest as one of their homes. Due to the increment in the lion population, its now a known fact that the population of lions will increase over the period of time. The EIA report further said that there is no dense forest, but lion do not prefer dense forests.
Jethva says, "The company which is given the project has the record of ill-maintenance as it is the same company which was responsible for the Pavagadh rope way mishap which left seven people dead". Project gets green signal from locals Junagadh: While wildlife conservators have expressed concerns over installation of the ambitious Girnar ropeway project, locals here have lent their support to the project.
In a hearing convened by Gujarat Pollution Control Board officials in the city on Wednesday, local representatives gave their nod to the project. According to a source, sadhus, local leaders, chartered accountants, lawyers, businessmen and other citizens attended the hearing in large numbers.
"People said, the Girnar ropeway will not only be an additional form of transport, but most importantly improve the economy of Junagadh. The ropeway is expected to draw an additional 20 lakh tourists and Junagadh's revenue will rise by Rs 100 crore. Besides, it will also generate jobs," the group told the officials, according to reports.
With the wildlife board giving the go-ahead on May 31 and the positive public response, it appears that the project will not face any more hurdle. Former director of Gujarat Tourism Pradip Kheemani and chief whip Nirbhay Purohit said, the wildlife board has okayed the project. After Wednesday's clearing the file will be put before the Union ministry of environment and forests