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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Apex wildlife panel to have say only over parks, tiger reserves

By Nitin Sethi, TNN | Dec 20, 2012, 05.38 AM IST Floods kill 6 animals in national parksSupreme Court lifts ban on tiger tourismTourists have to wait as forest department ropes in local community t...Supreme Court quashes rape charges against BhandarkarItaly respects Supreme Court: Defence minister NEW DELHI: Wildlife experts on board the apex National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) will clear development projects only over those forestlands which explicitly enjoy a higher level of protection under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 or are mandated for greater safety by the Supreme Court. Projects in forest patches, such as elephant reserves and green zones that conservationists refer to as "wildlife corridors" but are not designated as special legal entities under the law, will not come under the purview of the wildlife board, the environment ministry has decided. The NBWL is the apex wildlife body headed by the PM. Under various provisions and Supreme Court orders, development projects falling in designated wildlife zones and areas around these are required to be cleared by the standing committee of the board. The standing committee comprises several wildlife experts from outside the government besides officials. Some non-government experts had demanded that any area suggested as a wildlife corridor — an area that wildlife animals use frequently but do not reside in — as well as other wildlife patches regardless of legal status also come under their scrutiny. However, the environment ministry has decided that clearance from the NBWL standing committee shall be required only for national parks, sanctuaries, tiger reserves and corridors for tigers - all specially protected zones under the wildlife Act. Elephant reserves alone are spread over more than 58,000 sq km and cover not only forest-bearing lands but also agricultural lands, villages and other land under revenue control. Elephant reserves are demarcated as an area over which states can spend the funds received from Project Elephant but do not enjoy any special protection cover under law. Wildlife corridors have been defined by conservation scientists for various animals and are listed for levels of significance but the term remains controversial in the legal domain as in several cases, the use of different criteria ends up providing varying identification of these patches. In an ongoing case before the Supreme Court, the definition of an elephant corridor has ended up in huge controversy with many villagers and others standing to be impacted by how the corridor is demarcated and then treated for protection of wildlife.

Mumbai MLA moves Chavan on wildlife issues in Vidarbha

By Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 20, 2012, 12.35 AM IST Soon, law to deter attacks on scribes: Prithviraj ChavanPrithviraj Chavan inaugurates off-campus centre for a management inst...PMC told to finish JNNURM works without delay: Prithviraj ChavanPrithviraj Chavan steers clear of giving out flats to poorCM Prithviraj Chavan wants industrialist to help government in accele... NAGPUR: At a time when legislators from Vidarbha are not so keen to pursue issues grappling wildlife and forests, Congress MLA from Vile Parle in Mumbai, Krishna Hegde, has moved chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to expedite notification of Navegaon-Nagzira tiger reserve proposal. In a letter handed over to Chavan on Tuesday, Hegde appreciated his move to visit Tadoba National Park, which generated a lot of goodwill among wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists and officials. Hegde said the second capital of the state has already been designated as the 'Gateway to Tiger Country' by former environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, in the presence of Chavan in Mumbai in April 2011. "However, the state tourism department has not capitalized on this nomenclature. As Kerala promotes 'God's Own Country', Maharashtra should also aggressively promote 'Gateway To Tiger Land," said Hegde. "I would appeal to all the elected and nominated representatives, media and the public at large to repeatedly use the coinage so that 'Gateway To Tiger Land' gets embedded in the minds of tourists and wildlife lovers all over India and the world," he said. Apart from this, the MLA also drew Chavan's attention to other important issues related to forest and wildlife in Vidarbha. He lauded Chavan for notifying Mansinghdeo, Navegaon, New Nagzira, Umred-Karhandla and New Bor wildlife sanctuaries but demanded basic facilities like roads there. "We also need to have in place a basic infrastructure to promote tourism which is one of the issues related to tiger conservation. Madhya Pradesh is a fine example of how tiger tourism has developed," Hegde said. At the same time, the MLA also demanded to expedite eco-sensitive zones(ESZs) around the national parks and sanctuaries. Due to absence of notifications on such zones, threats of projects like power plants and mines loom large over reserves like Tadoba, Nagzira-Navegaon and Umred-Karhandla. "We need to notify Kolamarka in Gadchiroli as a sanctuary to save endangered wild buffaloes. The move will boost tourism in Gadchiroli and bring income to local communities. I have learnt that a proposal for the sanctuary is ready," he said. Genetically pure wild buffaloes are only found in Indravati in Chhattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. Hegde wanted the chief minister to promote tourism industry in a big way without damaging interests of wildlife and forests. Tourism also needs to be developed in the buffer zones of tiger reserves as early as possible. He urged Chavan that despite potential, tourism is being neglected due to which local communities are unable to reap tourism benefits. Hegde's wish list * Start existing guesthouses and structures for tourists. Facilities near Tadoba are lying unutilized and rest houses in Melghat need to be renovated * Being centrally located, urgent need to start a 'tourism kiosk' at Nagpur airport and in the forest office at Nagpur from where visitors can get detailed information * Don't allow any projects in the corridor. Stop proposed construction of Human dam in Sindewahi tehsil which will cut Tadoba-Umred Karhandla-Navegaon-Nagzira corridor * Poachers roam freely in the region. Take action against officials who are lax in taking action * Formulate a policy that acts of poaching would be held against officials and it would be mentioned in their confidential reports