Girnar ropeway gets Central nod
Indian Express By Mayor Satish Virda
z MoEF announces formation of committee to address environmental concerns
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on Monday gave the green signal to the original plan for the Girnar Ropeway project, which was stalled for the past 16 years due to environment concerns.
The MoEF has announced formation of a monitoring committee to address environmental concerns, primarily vulture roosting.
The Rs 120-crore ropeway project is expected to give a big boost to tourism, and work, expected to begin within a month, is likely to be completed in two years.
Junagadh Mayor Satish Virda said: "A committee chaired by Union Minister Jairam Ramesh gave a green signal to the project on Monday. Our 16-year-long wait has ended. Not only
Junagadh, I think entire Saurashtra is feeling elated."
In February this year, the MoEF had given the in-principle approval to the ropeway project with a condition that its alignment be changed to protect the vulture population on Mount Girnar. Four routes were considered and the state government later informed the Centre that the original plan from Bhavnath Taleti was the best option and that the other options were not feasible.
The Monitoring Committee that will be formed now will have representatives from the Central and state governments, NGOs and experts.
The Sadhu Samaj has welcomed the decision. Gopalnandji Bapu, head of Akhik Bhartiya Sadhu Samaj,
Gujarat, said the wish of several lakh tourists visiting Mount Girnar every year has finally come true.
The Jains were among the first to raise objection to the ropeway project when it was first proposed in 1995. The hills are home to several Jain temples and the community had feared that a ropeway project would turn the pilgrimage site into a tourist spot.
Later environmentalists also raised concerns. The hills are home to the endangered Girnari Giddhs (vultures) and the project could pose threat to the birds.
Incidentally, Jairam had while giving in-principle approval to the ropeway project, underlined the need for Centre's approval, as Mount Girnar was included in the Girnar Natural Reserve Forest and Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary in 2008.
Girnar has five principal peaks — Ambaji, Gorakhnath, Guru Dattatrya, Oghad Ansuya and Kalka. Ambaji is the highest peak at 3,400 feet and is located 5,000 steps uphill from the base. There are a total of 9,999 from the base to Guru Dattatrya — the last point on Girnar hills. But one has to climb down from Ambaji and then make the ascent to Guru Dattatrya, which is lower in height than Ambaji.
The ropeway project will provide connectivity up to Ambaji. There are Jain and Hindu temples on these peaks.
According to the blue print, the alignment is along the Bhavnath Taleti route, which is on the foothills of Mount Girnar in Junagadh city. Bhavnath Taleti falls in the revenue area. Along with the Bhavnath Taleti revenue area, seven hectares of Gir Reserve
Forest area costing Rs 90 crore has already been diverted for the project.
The ropeway distance between Bhavnath Taleti and Ambaji is 2.3 km and the height gained by the ropeway will be 850 meters.