Press on Environment and Wildlife
60,000 sq km of Western Ghats to be green zone (June Week #4 (2013))
The Kasturirangan panel had also recommended against bringing farmlands, plantations and habitations under the restrictive regime, or Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) of the Environment Protection Act, 1976. It has instead suggested that 90% of the natural
forests in the Western Ghats complex - adding up to 60,000 sq kilometers and constituting 37% of the entire hilly belt — be conserved under the ESA provisions of the green law. The forest area falling within the ESA would also cover 4,156 villages across six
states. The panel has said, "The villages falling under ESA will be involved in decision making on the future projects. All projects will require prior-informed consent and no-objection from the gram sabha (village council) of the village."

While the Kasturirangan panel may have taken a more moderate stand as compared to the Gadgil committee, the Centre is unlikely to have an easy time convincing the state governments even now.

The second panel report has recommended that there should be a complete ban on mining activity in this zone and current mining activities should be phased out within five years, or at the time of expiry of the mining lease.
It has banned development of any township or construction over the size of 20,000 square metres in the ESA zone. It has not recommended a ban on hydroelectric projects in the zone, but put a regime of stricter clearances for dams and other projects. For dams
it has demanded an uninterrupted ecological flow of at least 30% level of the rivers flow till individual baselines for dams are set. Cumulative studies to assess impact of dams on a river and ensuring that the minimum distance between projects is maintained
at 3km, and that not more than 50% of the river basin is affected at any time.


Tale of two snakes, hissing at superstition (June Week #4 (2013))
It happened some decades ago in our neighbourhood. A small girl was bitten by a snake one morning. Her frantic cries alerted all, as relatives came running down and besides calming her down, they somehow subdued the snake also. Taking extreme risks, they
managed to put it alive in a small metal box that was also carried to the hospital along with girl.

The chief physician came, examined the girl and asked to see the snake since they had brought it. But the snake was alive and could be let loose inside the hospital. There was no other option but to kill it. “No chance, we
will not kill or let anyone kill the snake. We will just open the box slightly and show the snake to the doctor,” the relatives said.

A commotion ensued. If anything was going to be killed, it would be the doctor and not the snake, they threatened in unison. Please don’t think that the relatives were drunk or ardent snake lovers or were afraid of some wildlife
protection Act. (This story had happened well before the act came into force in 1972) Like many people in those days, they just had this superstitious belief that if they killed the snake, the patient will also die. Somehow the good doctor convinced them that
nothing of the sort would happen to the child and the situation was brought under control. This story had a happy ending except for the poor venomous viper, which by the time they opened the small metal box with sticks ready, was already dead.


Insecticide used to kill tigers at Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park (Issue of the week, June Week #2 (2013))
The authorities of Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, about 150 km from here, said a highly toxic insecticide called "organophosphorous" was used in killing three tigers in February this year. The carcasses of the animals were found on the banks of the
Panchnoi river inside the park on February 9, 11 and 26.

Park authorities sent samples from the carcasses to the Directorate of Forensic Science, Assam (DFSA). "We have received the forensic test report recently and it says organophosphorous was used to kill three tigers. The insecticide, laced with meat, might
have been used as a bait to kill the tigers," said Mangaldoi wildlife divisional officer Sushil Kumar Daila.


Action plan for conservation of Great Indian Bustard gets Rajasthan chief minister's nod (June Week #2 (2013))
The action plan envisages increasing the population of these birds by addressing primary factors of habitat improvement and habitat protection. While the GIB population at present has been estimated around 250 in five states where they are found, the numbers
in Rajasthan are estimated around 100. "The species, known as ardeotis nigriceps, is critically endangered because it has an extremely small population that has undergone a rapid decline owing to a multitude of threats including habitat loss and degradation,
hunting and direct disturbance.

"This will be an important step towards conservation of the GIB. An enclosure of 2500 hectare, creating a clear space of 2000 ha, creating water holes and adequate security supervision of the birds will be taken care of under the project. Besides, cases
of poaching will be dealt with strictly," said Kak.


Bhadra earns its stripes, tiger numbers rise in two years (June Week #2 (2013))
The population of the endangered tiger in the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary at Chikmagalur has shown a spurt over the last two years. From 28 in 2010-2011, the number of tigers has gone up to 36 in 2012-13.

Wildlife DCF Udupudi told : “Bhadra is a safe zone for tigers. Unlike other tiger reserves, the intensity of human habitation is less on the periphery of Bhadra. There are coffee plantations all around, providing artificial forest cover. Even if wild animals
stray beyond the boundaries of the reserve, they are safe.’’

Besides this, Udupudi pointed out that water sources from the Shola Forests of Mullayyanagiri, Bababudan Giri and Kemmannugundi are abundant and water flows perennially in the forest.

“Owing to the year-round water flow, forests here are evergreen, leading to an increase in the population of herbivorus animals that are prey for predators like tigers. There is also an added source of water from the Bhadra reservoir backwaters,’’ he said.


Re-allotment of category C mines in Bellary opposed (June Week #2 (2013))
In the memorandum, the villagers urged the state government not to allow 51 category C mines to resume operations in the state by re-alloting them for captive mining through auctions.

They stated that mining activities had caused serious health problems among villagers and their livestock. Agriculture activities have been severely affected by the rampant illegal mining in Sandur taluk.

Mining activities in Sandur taluk have damaged the entire forest, water bodies have been polluted and filled with mining silt and the underground water level has drastically reduced, they said and urged the state government to impose a ban on C category
mines considering its affect on the villages, the eco-rich Sandur forest and the historical Kumaraswamy Temple among other tourist spots in the vicinity.

They also stated that the CM had seen the problems of mining-affected villages in Sandur when he visited the area.


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