By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
The forest officials in Gujarat heaved a sigh of relief on Monday afternoon when the union ministry of environment and forest gave the final go-ahead for the Girnar Ropeway Project, despite one of the main pre-conditions - that of re-aligning the towers to avoid the vultures' breeding sites — not being altered by the state government.
Principal secretary, environment and forest, SK Nanda said it is not feasible to re-align the route, but the other pre-conditions will be met.
"A monitoring committee will be set up to supervise the progress of the work. In a unique initiative, cameras will be installed in the top and middle station to understand what time the birds move around in different seasons and the trolleys will be rescheduled accordingly," he said.
The project has been in the pipeline for nearly 15 years now, but it gained momentum in the last three years as the number of pilgrims to the holy Girnar shrine on the top of the hill increased.
The controversy has been about man-animal conflict of wildlife conservation vis-à-vis human needs. Naturalists in the region claim the site, where the ropeway is designed to come up, passes through the nesting sites of the extremely endangered 69 Girnari Geedh (vulture) nests.
Moreover, the Girnar reserve forest has been declared a wildlife sanctuary in 2008 and is home to around 25 Asiatic Lions, as per the census of 2010.
Both the political parties have been pitching for the ropeway and when the final announcement came on Monday afternoon, Congress immediately took the credit for it by circulating the news and issuing a press statement thanking the MoEF.
The work on the Ropeway is expected to start soon and it is expected to conclude in approximately a year's time. Nanda added that a cess of Rs5 will be charged on the ticket which will be used for the conservation of the lions and vultures.