More wells around Gir covered after government hikes subsidy
Indian Express By Vikram Rautela
FOLLOWING the state government's decision to double the subsidy for covering open wells located on the periphery of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the number of wells that now stand covered has also increased in the last two months. The government used to give a grant of Rs 4,000 on each well and had increased it to Rs 8,000 in 2008
The Forest Department had initiated the move after it was found that these uncovered wells had proved fatal for the Asiatic Lion in at least 27 cases. A total of 57 lions had fallen victim to these wells between 2001 and 2009, according to state government figures.
Since the ambitious project to barricade open wells around the sanctuary took off in September 2007, in just two months during this financial year, parapet walls have been constructed around 1,302 open wells in the immediate periphery of the sanctuary. This comes to about 650 wells a month against an average rate of less than 325-odd wells per month.
M M Sharma, the Conservator of Forest (Junagadh Wildlife Circle), said: "Consequent to this, villagers have started showing more interest in the barricading project and are getting parapet walls erected around open wells in their field."
The work to barricade open wells around the sanctuary began following an initiative by the Rajkot-based Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) The state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with WCT to cover thousands of such wells in the periphery of the sanctuary. Similar MOUs were later signed with corporate houses like Reliance, Ambuja, Tata and another NGO, Vanishing Herds Foundation
Sharma said: "These NGOs and corporate houses have already barricaded about 1,500 wells that they had committed in the MOUs." The barricading work had started in full swing around December 2007 before hitting a temporary roadblock a year later. As per the MOUs, the government was to provide a grant of Rs 4,000 for each well
Sharma added: "There were 12,000odd open wells in over 200 villages in the immediate periphery of the sanctuary But farmers were not ready to part with Rs 6,000 to erect parapet walls around these wells in their fields. We requested the government to increase subsidies for barricading these wells and a Government Resolution in this regard was passed in 2008."
According to records, 9,326 open wells around the sanctuary have already been barricaded. "We expect to cover up the remaining 3,000 wells by this December," Sharma said. The estimated cost of barricading an open well is between Rs 7,000 and Rs 12,000. "Of this, the government now pays Rs 8,000. We are getting very good response from farmers and work is on in full swing. After completing all 12,000 wells in the first periphery of around two kms around the sanctuary, we will extend the work to villages in the second periphery of another two kms," he added
RESULT IN FIGURES Financial No. of year 2007-2008 (from Sep) 2008-2009 2009-2010 (till May) 2,137 3,887 1,302 Wells wells covered in covered a month 305 323 651