Thursday, March 17, 2011

2,700 wells around Gir still uncovered

2,700 wells around Gir still uncovered
Times of India

The state government has admitted that around 2,700 wells in the area outside Gir Sanctuary were still uncovered, posing danger to the big cats.

Replying to Jodiya MLA Raghavji Patel's query, the government said that earlier there were 15,021 open wells outside the sanctuary. The state had later adopted a fixed policy to make a parapet or cover for the wells. The government said that by December 31, 2010, 12,328 open wells had already been covered. The remaining 2,700 odd open wells would also be covered as per the availability of the funds.

A senior forest officer said that the cost of covering ranged between Rs 6,000 to Rs 15,000 for one well. The government has decided to give grants with an upper ceiling of Rs 8,000 per well. He said that the grant was decided based on the size of the well.

While 15,012 wells existed in and around the sanctuary, the forest officials said, the lions' movement were not restricted to the same area. The lions now roam in an area of around 10,500 sq km, right from Bheshan in Junagadh to Mahuva and Palitana in Bhavnagar. What's more, no surveys had ever been done in the other parts of Saurashtra region where lions have been spotted.

The state government, in reply to another question by Porbandar MLA Arjun Modhwadia, told the House that Barda Dungar in Porbandar and Jamnagar were being developed as the gene pool of big cats. There are plans to relocate lions from Gir Sanctuary to Barda. To give the big cats a natural habitat, the government is increasing the prey base in the area.

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