Press on Environment and Wildlife
Bharatpur birds to benefit from new water supply project (April Week #3 (2013))
The park requires around 500 million cubic feet (mcft) of water every year. However, water from the nearby Panchna Dam could not be released to the park given the strong opposition from farmers in the Karauli area.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has undertaken a Rs 65-crore project to supply water to the Keoladeo National Park from the Goverdhan drain. This was enabled by laying pipelines from the Santruk village to the Keoladeo National Park at a distance
of about 17.1 km. Water resource augmentation was also carried out within the National Park area, officials said.

Increase in water supply ensured a jump in vegetation and reportedly brought back different species such as the northern pintails, gadwall, and snakebird (Oriental Darter), which have been nesting in the Sanctuary for several years, though officials say
their numbers are still very low.

The sanctuary is one of the most visited in Rajasthan. The Government has also ensured that with regard to the Chambal-Dholpur drinking water project, a quantity of 310 mcft water was received in the Keoladeo National Park in the year 2012-13 up to February


How safe is the lion's new home? (April Week #3 (2013))
The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to allow the translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir sanctuary in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh is rooted in logic. The judgement takes into consideration the dangerous consequences of ‘putting
all eggs in one basket’, so to speak. The chances of extinction by a forest fire or an epidemic are very real.

Man-animal conflict in India is a burning issue with both sides — but mostly the animals — paying the price for such encounters. It remains to be seen how the authorities in Kuno Palpur sanctuary, which is an open forest, deals with it, as it may be instrumental
in deciding the fate of the relocated lords of the jungle. There is also the possibility of these lions intruding into  the territory of the two tigers in Kuno. Since there is no study advocating a peaceful co-existence of the big cats, bloody battles cannot
be ruled out.

The only silver lining is that lions are not a poacher’s delight the way tigers are.

If the government truly wants these cats to survive and thrive, it must leave the process of translocation to experts and scientists.


Rajasthan gets third tiger reserve (April Week #3 (2013))
The Rajasthan government has notified the Mukundra hills sanctuary as the third tiger reserve in the state.

The reserve area will be over 759 sq km spread between four districts of Kota, Bundi, Chittorgarh and Jhalawar near the Ranthambore tiger reserve.  

The core area of the Mukundra reserve currently has six villages, two of which are uninhabited. Eventually all these villages will have to be relocated funded by the NTCA. The sanctuary currently has wolves, sloth bear, chinkaras and leopards.

The Mukundra hill sanctuary was already declared as the satellite core area of Ranthambore reserve by the NTCA and Tigers often stray into the area. "The objective was always to link this to Ranthambore so as to let the tigers that stray from the park
come and breed here. It was the next best forest after Ranthambore for rehabilitation of tigers


Dams may dry up Ganga, warns ministerial group (April Week #3 (2013))
Recognizing that the plethora of dams built and planned in the Ganga basin could almost empty the river of its waters in the winter season, an inter-ministerial group has recommended that the projects be re-engineered to maintain 30-50% of water flow in
the lean period of December-March. 

While keeping the ecological flow in the river at these levels, the government could permit the dams already working or in the pipeline to continue after re-designing to ensure the recommended flow of water in the river. The move would require adjusting
the tariff and power production levels marginally. The committee has also recommended that 17 proposed projects adding up to 2,633 mw capacity be reviewed after the Ganga basin study by the IIT consortium.

Sixty-nine projects are proposed or running on Bhagirathi and Alaknanda -- the two main tributaries of the Ganga river basin. These add up to a capacity of 9,020.30 mw. Of these, 17 projects are operational at the moment and 26 are under construction.


Govt panel finds fault with green clearances granted to Posco (April Week #3 (2013))
In March 2012, the tribunal quashed the 2011 clearance given to the steel company by the environment ministry noting, besides other lapses, that the nod had been given for only a 4 million tonne per annum (mtpa) plant while a 12 mtpa plant was envisaged.
It ordered the setting up of a panel to review the project and a fresh evaluation of conditions to be enforced on the plant.

The Roy Paul committee had submitted its report in October 2012 but it has been made public only now through RTI. What further action the environment ministry has since taken on the report could not be ascertained.

The panel noted that the project developers did not carry out the studies they were required to as part of the environment clearance which includes one on impacts on fishing and livelihood and sourcing of water and possible damage to marine life.

While such studies are required to be carried out prior to the clearance and mandatory public hearings, the panel has asked them to be conducted now. The committee has also asked for long-term monitoring and studies on the impacts due to erosion of creeks/banks,
deepening of the creek and widening of the river mouth and all ecological changes occurring due to the construction of the project. It said the impact of dredging and disposal of dredged material by the port also needed to be studied.


More forests burning in Jharkhand (Issue of the week, April Week #2 (2013))
Wildfires in the forests of Hazaribagh, Jamshedpur, Palamu, Bokaro and a few other areas adding up to almost 23,605 sq km forest area of the state, often take a devastating form giving sleepless nights to the foresters.

At eight places in the state forest fire was reported on last Wednesday itself. According to reports available with the forest department, wildfire was reported at one spot in Hazaribagh, Palamu respectively and at six places in West Singhbhum district
which has several small hilly forests. Cases of major wildfires have been reported from 268 places in the state in April, this year.

A report available at the website of the Forest Survey of India says Jharkhand has reported forest fire at a total of 467 spots across various districts in the state. West Singhbhum district tops the list of districts affected by forest fires in terms
of the number of such incidents and their magnitude.

A budget of Rs 3 crore has been sanctioned for dousing flames. The department has roped in hundreds of villagers across the state to deal with it. In almost all districts which frequently report forest fires, the Village Forest Management & Protection
Committee (VFMPC) and in some districts Eco Development Committees are working. The department has hired fire watchers (villagers who are kept on daily wages) who work as informers for the department and join the officials in extinguishing fire.


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