Gov. projects endangering wildlife further
New Delhi: The year 2010 maybe the international year of biodiversity but India's biodiversity hotspots are facing an unprecedented onslaught. The Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife, under the Chairmanship of Minister Jairam Ramesh has recently cleared roads, dams and mining projects through national parks and sanctuaries – the last vestiges for endangered wildlife.
Minister of Environment, Jairam Ramesh who has cleared no less than 15 road, dam and mining projects inside India's National Parks and sanctuaries, may have sounded the death knell for India's most endangered wildlife. These include:
A Limestone Mining Plant on the boundary ofRajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, one of the finest habitats for the Tiger.
65 Hectares of forest land to be chopped for 3 roads passing through Gangotri National Park, home to snow leopard, blue sheep and black bear
Submergence of 1000 hectares of forest for a dam at Narasimha Wild Life Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, home to the critically endangered Jerdon Courser bird..
Diversion of 240 hectares of forest land for a 400 KV Transmission line and 21 hectares for an underground oil pipeline both at the Gujarat Wild Ass Sanctuary, only home to the Indian Wild Ass.
Diversion of forest land for a high-power transmission line by Power Grid Corporation in Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary, home to elephants, barking deer, sloth bears and leopards
Diversion of forest land for road-widening by the Border Roads Organization in Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttaranchal, home to the highly endangered musk deer.
Wild expert Belinda Wright said, “We have such few areas of prime forest land that are within our protect area network. And we just cannot afford to lose even an inch of them.”
However, Minister Jairam Ramesh disagrees.
Jairam said, “You are being unfair, you are being very selective. There are number of projects that have been put on hold or rejected. The job of my Ministry is not to say no all the time. My job is to find a balance between environment and development.”
National parks and wildlife sanctuaries form less than 4 per cent of India's land surface. In the International Year of biodiversity a complete halt on deforestation in these areas maybe the last hope of survival for India's endangered animals.