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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Damage to wildlife by infra projects to figure in NBWL meet

TNN | Sep 4, 2012, 01.21AM IST NAGPUR: The issue of linear intrusions, like networks of irrigation canals, power transmission lines, highways and railway lines, creating obstacles in smooth movement of tigers and wildlife in the corridors of Vidarbha will figure in the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday. Singh will chair the NBWL meeting at 6.30pm at 7 Race Course Road, Delhi. Around 45 members, including environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan and others, will attend. This meeting will be the first time Vidarbha gets representation in the form of Amravati-based wildlife conservation NGO Satpuda Foundation (SF). Nagpur is already called the 'tiger capital of the world', as it is surrounded by six tiger reserves within a radius of 250-300km. Kishor Rithe, president of SF and NBWL member, has already submitted the agenda items for the meeting. Rithe said he will raise issue of linear intrusion which causes problems for wildlife across Central India. Rithe said that though Central India in general and Vidarbha in particular play host to tiger habitats, farmers and villages faces huge economic losses due to unplanned development that forces wildlife out of its habitat. The most serious issue is implementation of linear projects like irrigation canal network, power transmission lines, highways and railway lines, which create obstacles in the smooth movement of wildlife in the corridors. "As a result, large number of wild animals get killed in accidents. Obstruction to wildlife movement by these projects also leads to crop depredation by wild animals, besides loss of human life and cattle due to attacks by carnivores," said Rithe. The NBWL member added that while planning and implementing any development or infrastructure project, the agencies need to give serious thought to mitigation measures. "Right now, there is hardly any special consideration in planning process for projects coming up in wildlife habitats or any financial allocation by agencies to implement mitigation measures. I will demand that the PM should address this issue," said Rithe.

Hartal in Valparai to press for exemption from buffer zone of tiger reserve

TNN | Sep 4, 2012, 03.55AM IST COIMBATORE: The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by different trade unions led by INTUC and HMS and supported by the trading community and tourism operators in Valparai on Monday was total. The hartal was observed to press for the exemption of the tea country from both core and buffer areas of Anamalai Tiger Reserve. Though the ruling AIADMK and its affiliated trade unions along with left parties kept away from the protest, over 20,000 plantation workers participated, paralyzing the functioning of tea estates. All shops in town remained closed while home stay facilities also downed their shutters. Autos and taxis also kept off the roads. The protest was organized in the background of Tamil Nadu's submission of an affidavit in the Supreme Court earmarking both buffer and core areas of tiger reserves. Valparai is out of the core area but workers are demanding exclusion from the buffer areas as well. Municipal chair person Sathyavanimuthu led a public meeting at Anna Thidal listing out the possible adverse effects of declaring Valapari a buffer zone. Meanwhile, tourist cottage owners and merchants in the plantation town will implead in the case being heard in the Supreme Court with regard to allowing tourism in tiger reserves. Representatives of the businesses have already left for New Delhi. They have also commissioned senior lawyers there to fight their case. Valparai is home to more than 40 home-stay businesses and 600 traders and thus, along with trade unions, they want to keep the town free from restrictions.. According to them, Valparai is the only municipality in the entire country to come under a tiger reserve, be it core area or buffer zone. What irks the tourism and commercial operators in the hill station is the lack of clarity on what kind of tourism would be permitted in a buffer zone. As per the 2001 census, Valparai has an urban population of 94,962 people and their normal life would be badly affected even if the whole municipality and adjoining tea estates are treated as buffer zones, according to the tourism industry. Before it became the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, the National Park had a 126-sq-km core area and 832 sq km buffer zone. Both the core area and the buffer zone had exempted Valparai municipality and surroundings. "The issue of Valparai is very peculiar. Other areas in the country which stand close to tiger reserves are not urban like Valparai. We have been here for generations and being in the buffer zone would mean serious trouble," says MJP Shaji from Merchants Association.