Friday, October 30, 2009

Ropeway project to temple put on hold to "save" vultures

Ropeway project to temple put on hold to "save" vultures
The Economic Times

The Centre has put on hold the proposed ropeway to Gujarat's religious shrine atop Mount Girnar citing threat to the nesting of  endangered vultures in the region.

The Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife chaired by union environment minister Jairarm Ramesh at a recent meeting has asked a team of conservationists to visit the site and study the impact of the proposed project before deciding its fate.

"Girnar wildlife sanctuary is the only known colony of long-billed vultures in Gujarat. If the ropeway passes through the trees housing vulture nests, it will be a disaster," Asad Rehmani, a prominent conservationist from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and committee member, said.

He said 121 vultures (long-billed and white-beaked species vultures) were counted in the region in 2005 which have declined to 79, according to the 2007 census.

He said the environment impact assessment report submitted by a private firm Usha Breco Ltd seeking to construct the ropeway was not factually correct with particular reference to faunal diversity of the area.

The committee also observed the project seeking diversion of around seven hectares of Girnar forestland was yet to get environmental clearance.

However, the Gujarat Wildlife Department, strongly arguing in favour of the project, said it would only ease the pressure on the wildlife created by visiting devotees who currently pass through the jungle to reach the holy shrine atop Girnar.

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