Hyderabad

NBWL ignores caveat of non-invasive exploration

Future tense: The life of Chenchu youth at Pullaipally village inside Amrabad Tiger Reserve would be threatened by the proposed Uranium exploration.   | Photo Credit: Swathi V

The proposal for survey and exploration of Uranium in the Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Nagarkurnool district has moved a step further, as the National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) has given its consent for the same during its recent sitting.

As per the minutes of the meeting available in public domain, the Standing Committee of NBWL has approved the proposal by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, “considering the strategic importance of uranium for a developing country”.

Ignored

Quite inexplicably, the proposal was cleared under the category of “proposals within 10 kilometres from the boundaries of protected areas”, even as the exploration is to be done right inside the Amrabad Tiger Reserve. Further, the caveat of non-invasive exploration, insisted upon by activists in the State Board of Wild Life meeting, does not find any mention in the minutes.

The first ever meeting of the State Board post-bifurcation last December has cleared the proposal unanimously, after which a team from the National Tiger Conservation Authority visited the area and submitted its report.

The proposal will now be bounced to the Central Empowered Committee under the Supreme Court for permission.

Big threat

The proposal by the Regional Director of South Central Region of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) envisages survey and exploration of Uranium over 83 square kilometres of the Amrabad Tiger Reserve which is spread over Amrabad and Udimilla in Nagarkurnool district and Narayanpur in Nalgonda district.

Environmental activists are crying foul about the NBWL clearance, saying it will be equally detrimental to human and animal health.

“The Nallamala forests are habitat for tigers and Chenchus alike, and the exploration is in the immediate catchment area of Krishna River which is drinking water source for millions of people of the State, including Hyderabadis. Why can’t we leave alone just 4-5% of Telangana, constituting protected areas, for its natural beauty, rich heritage and indigenous culture?” questions Imran Siddique from the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society who is also a member of the State Board.

Other proposals

Uranium exploration in the tiger reserve was first proposed by the Department of Atomic Energy over 15 years ago. Environmentalists and local tribals fiercely opposed the proposal, resulting in the State Pollution Control Board vetoing it.

Other major proposals cleared by the NBWL include diversion of forest land in Warangal district for highway improvement, and another small stretch through Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park in the capital city.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 4:03:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/nbwl-ignores-caveat-of-non-invasive-exploration/article17835057.ece

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