NEW DELHI: In an ironic development, National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) – the apex body that approves projects keeping in mind the legal sanctity of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks – during ‘Wildlife Week’ last month, de-notification of more than 1,000 sq km of ‘protected areas’ and Diversion recommended and activities allowed. Which can easily be located outside such green areas.
‘Wildlife Week’ is celebrated every year from October 2 to 8 to promote efforts to conserve flora and fauna in the country.
. The Board’s decision on denotification and diversion within protected areas’, was taken at its meeting meeting The committee Joined October 5 Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary In Uttar Pradesh, Mukundara National Park in Rajasthan and Bahu Conservation Reserve In Jammu district.
An analysis by Legal initiatives for forest and environment (LIFE) showed that the move was one of the single largest morphology of ‘protected areas’ in the country in recent times. Simply put, ‘de-notified’ areas cannot be protected as legally defined DOS and ‘notified’ areas and thus become significantly vulnerable to wildlife.
To rationalize the boundary of the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary, the Board approved its original notification of about 47% of its original area (978 sq km), which is on both the left and right banks of the Ganges river in U.P. Notifies an area of 2,073 sq km. For scale, it is over the entire area (over 917 sq km) of Kanha Tiger Reserve.
Referring to the decision of the Standing Committee of NBWL, environmental advocate Ritvik Dutta said, “Exclusion of this magnitude will have a significant impact on the entire riverine ecosystem of the sanctuary. It is sad that even in this week when wildlife conservation should be given priority, the standing committee approved the notification of such large areas of PA. ”
Underlining the irony of such a decision, Dutta said, “If the NBWL is unable to stop the destruction of wildlife during ‘Wildlife Week’, then it is either time for ‘Wildlife Week’ to stand out or stand away is. Board committee
The standing committee, headed by the Union Minister of Environment, currently consists of only two non-official members – HS Singh, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Gujarat and R. Sukumar of the Indian Institute of Science.
When asked about HWS’s decision to de-notify a large area, committee member HS Singh said, “The area recommended for de-notification is mainly non-forest land. It has been used for years for agriculture and settlement. The idea is to rationalize the boundaries of the sanctuary so that it can be protected under the law. The forest area within the sanctuary is not recommended for de-notification. Forest areas will remain part of the HWS. ”
Although the committee has said that the UP government will take action to include the 187 sq km area in the sanctuary or notify it as an ‘eco-sensitive zone’ (ESZ), the ESZ declaration means a very low level of protection as activities Level is – are harmful to wildlife within such areas.
LIFE stated in its analysis that the decision of de-notification is in violation of the orders of the Supreme Court which prohibited the de-notification of any national park, forest and sanctuary in 2000.
Other decisions of the board include diversion of PA Bhumi (Mukundara National Park) for the development of eight lanes of national highways in Rajasthan. Further, one of the proposals considered by the committee on 5 October was to develop judicial infrastructure for the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. The proposed location of this project is in Bahu Conservation Reserve of Jammu district.
Datta said, “The problem is that if we lose even the ‘protected areas’ to the infrastructure of the High Courts, there is no purpose to abolish them.”
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