Friday, March 25, 2011

Girnar ropeway: State to stick to original plan.

 The state government has decided to stick to the original alignment of the Girnar Ropeway Project, rejecting alternatives suggested by the the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
“We have stuck to the original alignment because no other alignment is viable,” said S K Nanda, Principal Secretary, State Forest Department. He said the decision was reached after a detailed study. The original alignment is through Bhavnath Taleti, which lies on the foothills of Mount Girnar and is not far from Junagadh.
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had suggested the state government to study possible alternative routes in the ropeway’s alignment so it would pose less threat to the critically-endangered Girnari Giddhs (Long-billed Vultures).
On February 7, the Minister had granted in-principle approval for the ropeway, but subjected it to six specific conditions. The first of these was that the state would “conduct a study to consider alternative alignment of the ropeway project, preferably along the Dattar/Bhesan side to ensure that it does not cut across the prime vulture habitat and minimises disturbance to the nesting, roosting and ranging sites of birds and other wildlife species...”
Nanda said, Usha Breco Limited, which has been awarded the ropeway project, submitted it’s report on an alternative alignment on March 23. They were carefully studied, but were found non-viable. The state Forest Department will forward the report to MoEF in some days, Nanda added.
Incidentally, soon after Jairam granted in-principle approval to the project, experts expressed their apprehension over the viability of the alternative alignment.
Nanda said the Bhesan alignment was tedious because it was too far, and would have necessitated forest land acquisition (Bhesan is surrounded by a thick forest area). Besides, the town is far from Junagadh city, the main tourist area from where pilgrims approach the mountain. To reach Bhesan from Junagadh, pilgrims will have to trek 35 kilometres through Gir Sanctuary. Driving would mean an even longer journey from Junagadh city — first to a village called Vadal, and from there another 26 km to Bhesan. 

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