Girnar ropeway to give way to vultures
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
The ride on the rope-way to Ambaji Temple may have you stopping briefly, mid-air. No need to panic, especially if you are a nature lover. Not many would mind giving the way to the endangered vultures who nest in Girnar forest.
The vultures' movement will be specially monitored by high resolution cameras. "Based on the visual inputs, the ropeway cabins may have to be stopped briefly to allow vultures flying away or preparing to get to their nests," said forest officials.
While giving the final nod to the project, the union minister of forest and environment, Jairam Ramesh, had specified that the ropeway project should minimise the man-animal conflict in Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
The cameras would be especially installed to ensure that the vultures are not adversely affected by the Girnar ropeway project. The Ministry of environment and forest while laying down the condition stated that to minimize disturbance to the nesting, roosting and ranging sites of the long-billed vultures the company Usha Breco limited will have to increase height of towers and also install high resolution cameras on the ninth tower to watch vultures and prevent cable cars from hitting them.
Deepak Kaplish, the incharge of the project for Usha Breco said that the height of each tower would be increased by nearly 3 meter to six meter. This would ensure total safety for the vulture. He said the height of the pillars would range from 43 meter to 73 meters.
Forest officials said that if any movement of the vulture is spotted, the operator-company will immediately stop the movement of the cable car from both sides till these long-billed vultures are settled. He said that according to April 2010 census, there are 47 long-billed vulture and 22 nesting sites along the project.
Official said that the central ministry has also asked to build a 'vulture cafeteria' to provide supplement feed to the vultures and divert them from the ropeway area. These sites have to be developed and dead animals will be dumped for the vulture.
The minister wants the company to impose a cess of Rs 5 per ticket or 2% of the ticket turnover revenue, whichever is higher, to collect funds for lion conservation. Girnar was declared as a sanctuary in 2008 and has 24 Asiatic lions apart from endangered vultures. The ministry also suggested that a technical monitoring group of state forest officers and volunteers should be formed to advise on safety and other issues.