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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Forest panel rejects Adani’s coal proposal

Published: Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012, 9:56 IST By Akshay Deshmane | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA A special committee of senior Maharashtra forest officials has rejected clearance to Adani Power Ltd’s proposal for setting up an open cast coal mine in Chandrapur’s Lohara block citing a threat to the survival of tiger and other wildlife in and around the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). The block falls under the proposed eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the tiger reserve. The minutes of this committee’s September 4 meeting perused by DNA show that there is sufficient evidence of tigers and other wildlife frequently using the area proposed to be mined for coal. The area is part of the “continuous wildlife corridor”. The special committee was set up to study the project proposal submitted by Adani Power Project for diversion of forest land for the coal block. “Any mining lease allowed around TATR would result in isolation of TATR from the rest of the central Indian landscape, which would jeopardize the very survival of tiger in TATR. The isolation of healthy population would lead to gradual deterioration of tiger reserve,” the committee observed and said,”Mining and other related activities will adversely affect wildlife movements outside protected area also.” The committee made these remarks after noting that TATR has connectivity to other protected areas (PAs) mainly through eastern and southern side which extends to Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. It also pointed out that “the corridor on southern side is least fragmented and almost continuous.” The mining lease alloted to Adani Power Ltd falls in this corridor and would result in its fragmentation. The adverse impact is not limited to wild animals as “the project involves felling of a large number of trees and an untold number of shrubs, herbs and grasses causing incomprehensible destruction of floristic diversity of the the tract.” The four-member committee comprised chief conservator of forests, Chandrapur, BSK Reddy; TATR field director Virendra Tiwari; SP Thakre, general manager, Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra, North Chandrapur region, and P Kalyankumar, deputy conservator of forests, Chandrapur. Speaking to DNA, Virendra Tiwari said, “The adverse impact on wildlife continues after a mere removal of two compartments from the buffer zone of TATR. So, the proposal was rejected.” Chandrapur-based Wildlife activist Bandu Dhotre, who has been leading an agitation against mining in TATR, accessed the minutes of the meeting through a Right to Information (RTI) application. He said, “Now, the nodal officer of the forest department where the company submitted its proposal should be receptive to the observations and concerns raised by officials in the committee and accept the rejection. If forest officials consistently take such decisions which are in favour of wildlife and environment, there will be no need for people to come on the streets to agitate.” Adani Power Ltd did not reply to an email questionnaire sent by the correspondent on the issue. However, sources in the company said it is looking for an alternative block and wants to surrender the Lohara (west) extension block. “Since it is obvious that chances of getting forest clearance are slim, we don’t plan to pursue it further. We will seek its deallocation and also request the coal ministry for an alternative block as it is necessary to ensure fuel supply to our 3, 300 MW Tirodia power plant, “ said a company source.

Cheetah, lion can co-exist: MoEF

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times New Delhi, September 19, 2012 Advocating the re-introduction of cheetah in Kuno Sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh (MP) the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has rejected the claim that lions and the extinct cat cannot co-exist in the same territory. It has also sought vacation of May 8, 2012 Supreme Court (SC) stay to pave way for the implementation of its ambitious Rs. 91.56 crore project to reintroduce the extinct cheetah. The ministry's affidavit was filed pursuant to an SC order that raised apprehensions of cheetah's reintroduction especially in wake of the Centre's decision to move Gir lions from Gujarat to Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. It had even wondered if there was enough wild prey for cheetah to survive at Kuno. MoEF wants to import African cheetahs to Kuno. Filed through advocate Wasim Qadri, the affidavit assured import of cheetah to Kuno would not delay or affect the lion reintroduction there. It said the cheetah and lions have historical coexistence in the Kuno range and that the sanctuary had “adequate wild prey to support wild carnivores.” The ministry would not incur cost on procuring cheetahs since Namibia is donating the cats. It denied that the allocation made to Project Tiger had been reduced due to cheetah reintroduction program. Around 85% of the cheetah reintroduction budget is earmarked for protection and for relocation of three villages in Kuno sanctuary. According to the ministry a joint study by Wildlife Institute of India and Wildlife Trust of India had short listed MP as one of the three to reintroduce cheetah. Since Kuno's habitat status had improved owing to relocation of 24 villages, the ministry zeroed it in. There were 16 species of cats in India, including the cheetah. The latter is the only cat species, which has become extinct in the country, leading to its reintroduction.