Thursday, March 11, 2010

20 Asiatic lions die in Gir forest

20 Asiatic lions die in Gir forest

Twenty Asiatic lions died during 2004-09 due to drowning after falling in the open wells in and around Gir forest in Gujarat, says a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, which arraigned the Forest and Environment department for not taking appropriate action to protect the endangered species.

Surveys revealed that there were 8,696 open wells in and around Gir protected area. After a delay of more than three years, the department had started action to construct parapet walls to the open wells only from 2007-08 and in all, 6,024 wells were protected at a cost of Rs 2.82 crore, while balance 2,672 wells were still unprotected as of March, 2009.

Despite passage of 27 years after the Gujarat government notified its intention and 12 years after the Supreme Court directions in 1997, 1,153 sq km area of Gir sanctuary was not notified as national park, the CAG pointed out in its latest report presented in the recent session of the Legislative Assembly.

Notwithstanding the Centre's stipulation that mining activity within five km radius from the boundary of national park and wildlife sanctuary was not permissible, 13 mining units were operating within five km radius of Gir forest without lease orders,'' the report pointed out. ''No action was taken to get the 13 illegal mining units closed though lease cancellation orders were issued to another set of 22 mining units operating within five km radius from boundary of Gir forest with valid lease licence,'' it said.

The Wildlife Protection Act says that there should not be any human settlement in the protected area so as to provide undisturbed life to the wildlife. But at the end of 2008-09, there were 376 Maldharis (shepherd) families settled within Gir forest in Junagadh district, though 588 of the total 845 such families were relocated earlier outside the protected area. Eighty-seven relocated families had already returned and were residing unauthorisedly, the report added.

No comments:

Previous Posts