Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Girnar ropeway will 'sound death knell for Gir vultures’

Girnar ropeway will 'sound death knell for Gir vultures’
DNA By Jumana Shah

"It was expected, but it has still come as a shock. There is no hope now for the 'Girnari Giddh' species; it will be extinct very soon," said, a wildlife conservationist Dinesh Goswami who was part of the team that had undertaken the vulture census in Girnar in 2010. He was referring to the ministry of environment and forests' green signal for the construction of ropeway in the Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary in Junagadh, the only home to Asiatic lions.
The sentiment angrily voiced by the activist of Kodinar-based

Prakruti Nature Club pretty much reflects the sentiment shared by most of the vulture conservationists across the board, including member of National Board for Wildlife in India (NBWLI), Divyabhanusinh Chavda. He was a part of the two-member committee who had visited the site last December.

In the report submitted by him, it had been categorically stated that the project has a possibility of leading to the local extinction of the 'Girnari Giddh,' a critically endangered species listed in Schedule I under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The report had advised against the construction of a ropeway.

Moreover, sources have indicated that the six conditions sought in principle approval are also not likely to be fulfilled. "This is the most viable route; the plan had been submitted after intense research. Realignment is not likely," the source said.

This apart, the political tug-of-war over claiming the credit over the sanctioning of the project is also intriguing. When Ramesh was here last month, Congress president Siddharth Patel had met him to make a presentation declaring Congress's support to the project. On Monday, as soon as news of the project clearance trickled in, Patel rushed to Delhi to claim credit.

"Local BJP and Congress politicians have cornered a lot of land around the hill. The land prices in the area have been rising since the last few months, and on Monday itself, it was heard that the prices skyrocketed anew," a source said.

Minstry ofenvironment and forests conditions for ropeway approval

*   State government to conduct a study to consider alternate alignment of the ropeway project, preferably along the Dattar/Bhesan side. To submit a positive report within 2 months
*    The 9th and 10th tower's height of ropeway will be raised to avoid disturbance to nesting sites
*    A camera of high resolution will be placed on the 9th tower to monitor movement of vulture
*    A cafeteria for vultures will be constructed at an appropriate location which will be decided in consultation with experts
*    A cess of Rs5 per ticket or 2% of the ticket turnover revenue to be imposed and revenue generated from this will be handed over to the Gir Lion Conservation Society.
*    Forest department, experts from BNHS, WWF and other local voluntary organisations will constitute a technical monitoring group to advise on safety protocols

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