Maharashtra government diverts 88 hectare of tiger land for industry


October 30, 2018


NAGPUR: At a time when man-animal conflict is raging and 26 humans have been killed in the last 10 months in the state, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has in-principle cleared 87.98-hectare tiger-bearing forest to explosives company Solar Industries India Ltd (SIIL) in Chakdoh for manufacturing defence products.
The 222-acre reserve and protected forest land, equivalent to 293 football fields in Chakdoh in Kondhali and Kalmeshwar ranges, 40km from Nagpur, may be over Rs100 crore at the current market rate but SIIL will get it for merely Rs7.09 crore. The company will spend Rs7 crore on compensatory afforestation (CA) and fencing the land, as well as installing artificial bird nests.
The FAC decision of July 25, 2017 granting stage-I clearance, under Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, is based on the state government’s recommendation on February 16, 2016.
Earlier this year, 467 hectares of forest land having tigers was diverted to Reliance in Yavatmal district.
The government ignored three survey reports by expert committees which opposed the land diversion owing to the presence of rich flora and fauna, including tigers and leopards, in the proposed diversion area.

According to forest officials, one cattle kill is reported every week both in Kondhali and Kalmeshwar ranges. Besides, annually at least 200 crop-damage cases are reported indicating there is sizeable number of herbivores. Of the 88-hectare forest to be diverted, 26-hectare fall in Kalmeshwar range and 62 in Kondhali.
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Survey reports indicate the presence of six tigers, including two males and females with cubs, and an equal number of leopards besides spotted deer, barking deer, wild dogs, wild boars, sambars, nilgai, civets, in the area. Presence of these animals has been found within 5km periphery of the company premises. Being contiguous, animals use the proposed diversion area too.

In 2016, reacting to a series of TOI reports, forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had said that if tiger presence is found in the proposed area the land would not be diverted. Congress MLA from Saoner Sunil Kedar, in whose constituency the area falls, had vehemently opposed the diversion.
On Monday, Kedar expressed surprise over the decision and said, “I’m not aware and will find out from the forest department and come back to you.” However, he did not revert.
A senior forest official, who is in the know of the issue, told TOI that the decision was taken with consensus in a joint meeting called by forest minister during which Kedar too was present.
Nodal officer G Saiprakash said, “State has approved the land diversion and project proponent’s stage-II compliances are in final phase. Though the land diversion looks to be huge, actual area for non-forestry activity will be 4.73 hectares only.”
Honorary district warden Kundan Hate, who was part of the camera trap and spot surveys, blamed the government for man-animal conflict. “It is inviting conflict by diverting tiger-bearing forest to select companies and later to spend crores on paying compensation. It has failed to learn lessons from the ongoing Pandharkawda episode (a tiger and her cubs are playing havoc in some villages),” he said.
Hate said the SIIL has been exempted from the condition of wildlife management plan and the company will spend Rs3.37 lakh on 750 artificial bird nests. “Though the company is taking over rich land here, it is compensating 87.97-hectare land in Walwad in Ratnagiri. Of this, 18 hectares is not worth for plantation,” he said.
SIIL business director JF Salve said, “We will pay Rs1 crore in five years to the forest department (Rs20 lakh per year) for conservation. A small piece of land will be utilized for manufacturing critical defence products while remaining land is needed for safety distance. Some of the area will also be fenced.”

Salve said CA land has been identified in Hirapur in Saoli range in Chandrapur where plantations will be taken up. This area will be chain linked.
Hate says the land diversion area is an identified tiger corridor between Bor and Melghat reserves. In 2015 and 2017, a tigress from Bor and a male called Nawab travelled 140km to reach Pohra-Malkhed forest moving from proposed diversion area.

“So called development in greed by harming nature will always be disastrous for human being and society. A balanced move keeping everyone with you is called development and this is called blindness as we are ignoring the other creatures as nature has created for ecological balance.”- Editor, Vedic Upasana Peeth

 

Source : Times Of India 



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