He forced govt to take notice of 56 illegal mines around Gir
Times of India By Vijaysinh Parmar
The Asiatic lion census in Gir began on Saturday only to reaffirm the fact that lions enjoy a respectable stay in the state and need no other sanctuary anywhere in the country. But one would have to share this pride with Bhanu Odedara, a Porbandar resident who through his RTI applications forced the government to take notice of the 56 illegal mines surrounding the Gir sanctuary that were proving dangerous for the lions.
"Blasting in mining activity is a m a j o r threat to w i l d l i f e and has har mful effects. When we talk of s av i n g our lions — this should be the first step towards that cause — providing a conducive environment for our wildlife," says Odedara.
Last year, Odedara's RTI brought out the issue of illegal mining activities within the 5 km periphery of Barda Wi l d l i f e Sanctuary. "Twenty-one permissions for mining around the forest area had been g r a n t e d since 2002 by state geological department, many of which were given without a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the state forest department. According to the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), mining is not permissible in the 5 km periphery of the sanctuary,'' says Odedara.
Forest officials were forced to admit that mining was going on in villages of Kodinar and Una taluka of Junagadh district. The villages include Ghantvad, Harmadiya, Valadar, Pinchhava in Kodinar taluka and Jamwala, Kansariya in Una taluka of Junagadh district.
"Forest officials said that they have issued showcause notices to the mine operators in the area. But, they should take harsh actions against the illegal mine operators," says Odedara. He is now following up on the issue through filing RTI application.
In February 2010, office of the assistant conservator of forests, Talala (Gir) range had assured Odedara officially that the details of mines that are live within the 5 km periphery of Gir sanctuary were being sought. A detailed report is now being prepared on the action taken by the forest department to stop illegal mining activities." Fo re s t officials said that there are 56 s u ch mines active in Talala range area within the 5 km periphery of Gir sanctuary," says Odedara.
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