G. Prabhakaran

Power Minister has not given his opinion

  • Conservator of Forests sent the proposal 10 months ago
  • Forest Minister has already cleared the proposal

    PALAKKAD: A proposal for a buffer zone for the Silent Valley National Park has been awaiting consent of Minister for Electricity A.K. Balan. The Conservator of Forests, Wildlife Circle, Palakkad, sent the proposal for the 148-sq km zone to the Government 10 months ago.

    Highly placed sources in the Government say Minister for Forests Benoy Viswom had cleared the proposal. It was then sent to Mr. Balan, who has voiced the need for setting up the Pathrakadavu hydroelectric project near the park. The Cabinet will take up the proposal after the Minister gives his opinion.

    The proposal aims at protecting the park for the long term. "It is felt absolutely essential that an effective buffer of forests should be immediately formed around the national park in order to save the world famous Silent Valley National Park from all potential dangers,'' it says.

    "This can only be achieved by bringing the management of Silent Valley National Park as well as the proposed buffer under one management umbrella to initiate intensive forest protection measures in Silent Valley National Park as well as in the proposed buffer zone to insulate the park from all possible dangers.''

    The park is one of the smallest protected areas in the country. The buffer will improve spatial distribution of wildlife, which will enhance their sustainability, it says.

    `Ecological island'

    "The Silent Valley, an `ecological island,' which is more than 50 million years old in its evolution, is known to be the only surviving bit of tropical evergreen forests in the Sahya Ranges. The valley is replete with a wide range of biological diversity, including very rare, endangered and endemic fauna and flora.

    ``Scientific studies undertaken in the recent past have revealed unimaginable magnitude of unique faunal and floral abundance."

    The park has been successfully managed since its constitution for the last two decades in accordance with a scientifically drawn-up management plan for conservation with least biotic interference. However, the territorial forests located around the national park have been subject to a different treatment under a working-plan prescription to accomplish revenue-oriented objectives. These forestry activities such as extraction of bamboo and reed affect the long-term conservation of the park, the proposal says.

    "Illegal activities such as ganja cultivation, setting forest fires, trapping and poaching wild animals, etc., are encountered almost frequently in the territorial forests located in the immediate vicinity of the national park. This has resulted in degradation of habitat, forest cover, etc., which has adverse spill-over effects on the long-term survival of the national park."

    The buffer zone will have 94 sq km east of the Kunthipuzha and 54 sq km taken from the Mannarkkad range and Nilambur south division west of the river.