Tuesday, February 22, 2011
MoEF nod for Girnar Ropeway project.
It will reduce chances of man-animal conflict in Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary: Ramesh
The Ministry of Environment and Forest has given an “in principle” approval to the long-pending Mount Girnar Ropeway project in Junagadh district in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.
The order, pending since 1995, was signed by the Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh on Monday soon after a delegation of the State Congress, led by its president Siddhartha Patel, the mayor of Junagadh, and other leaders of the party-controlled Junagadh Municipal Corporation, called on the Minister requesting him to clear the project.
The project was being opposed by some environmentalists and others on the ground that it would threaten the near-extinct species of the “Girnari Giddh,” the long-billed vultures, as the Girnar region alone accounts for about 25 per cent of the species and about 10 per cent of the total vulture population in the State.
Mr. Ramesh said giving “in principle” approval to the project would reduce the chances of man-animal conflict in the Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, which also provided abode to the Asiatic Lions. About 20 to 25 Asiatic Lions were estimated to have come out of the adjacent Gir forest and were living in the Girnar sanctuary. Besides, it would also provide a convenient transportation to thousands of pilgrims visiting Mt. Girnar and end the “socially unacceptable” system of men carrying pilgrims in “dolis.”
On the allegation of the Narendra Modi government that the Centre was deliberately holding up the ropeway project, Mr. Ramesh said the State administration was primarily to be blamed for the delay as it failed to implement the project in 13 years after the proposal was mooted in 1995, when no Central clearance was required.
The Centre's approval became mandatory only after the Girnar reserve forest was in May, 2008 declared the Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary, a new habitat for the Gir lions.
Mr. Ramesh, who visited the site on January 27 and discussed with some experts, State government officials and others, has laid down some half-a-dozen conditions to minimise the risks to the long-billed vultures.