CEC visits proposed Girnar Ropeway project site in Guj
The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has been on a two-day visit to the proposed Girnar Ropeway Project site in Junagadh since yesterday and is likely to submit a report on it soon. In February this year, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had given its "in principle" approval to this proposed project. However, CEC's clearance is necessary to start the construction work for the project. "The committee members have visited the site and are expected to submit a report on it within three weeks," Sudeep Kumar Nanda, Principal Secretary to the Environment and Forests Ministry to Gujarat government told PTI over phone. Nanda, along with the Chief Wildlife Conservator of Forests (Gujarat) Pradeep Kumar Khanna and other senior officials of the Forest Department provided details regarding the project to CEC members. After meeting the committee members, they said they are hopeful about CEC clearance for Usha Breco company's proposal to build Girnar ropeway. "This clearance is a must for starting the construction activity in the sanctuary area," a company official D Kalps said. The project was being opposed by the environmentalists on the grounds that it would threaten the near-extinct species of the long-billed vultures, as the Girnar region alone accounts for about 10 per cent of the total vulture population in the state. The Centre's approval became mandatory only after the Girnar reserve forest was, in May, 2008, declared the Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, a new habitat for the Gir lions. About 20 Asiatic Lions were estimated to have opted out of the adjacent Gir forest and were living in the Girnar sanctuary. Former Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh had said that giving "in principle" approval to the project would reduce the chances of man-animal conflict in the Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, which also provided abode to the Asiatic Lions."