A sanctuary for ghariyals (fresh water crocodiles) spread over 1,600 sq km will be created along the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to protect the species from extinction, Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here on Monday.

Speaking to journalists at the Crocodile Bank here, Mr. Ramesh said a three-State authority had been formed for the purpose. The Ministry had approved the proposal and allotted Rs. 8 crore. At present, there were only 200 breeding adult ghariyals and their total population in the wild would be a mere 1,400. The sanctuary would help stabilise the population.

A former Judge of the Supreme Court would be appointed chairman of the National Green Tribunal, Mr. Ramesh said. India would be the fourth country to have formed such a tribunal, which would handle civil cases relating to environment and forests.

The final draft proposal of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2010 would be ready soon. It would balance development and conservation. Separate provisions had been added to the draft policy, taking into account the requirement of each State, Mr. Ramesh said. As for violations pertaining to CRZ 1991, the Ministry would not condone them or allow their regularisation. “We will continue to go after the violators,” he said. He also stressed that the new policy on CRZ would not affect the interests of fishermen. The Ministry was working on a legislation to protect the rights of traditional fishermen, he said.

The Ministry was also drawing up a draft regulation for protecting wetlands. The local authorities would cooperate with the Centre to implement the regulation, he said. Three places — two in Rajasthan and one in Madhya Pradesh — had been identified for reintroducing the cheetah, which became extinct in the country about 50 years ago. The Ministry also planned to clean up the River Ganga, where dolphins were dying due to increased pollution levels, Mr. Ramesh said.