Declare Hesarghatta as a conservation reserve: environmental activists to CM

Environmentalists say the Hesaraghatta lakebed and grasslands are an important reservoir of biodiversity and a refuge for endangered wildlife species.   | Photo Credit: File photo

With the BJP government reinstating the proposal to set up a film city in Bengaluru, and the name of Hesaraghatta cropping up again, environmental activists are gearing up for a fresh battle.

A section of them are writing to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa urging the government to drop the 345-acre grassland as a possible location for the film city or other projects on the grounds that development activity would pose a threat to animal farms in the area.

“It could pose a biosecurity hazard to the various animal farms in the area and we have strongly recommended protection of the grasslands,” said excerpts from the letter written to the Chief Minister.

Reservoir of biodiversity

Environmentalists have pointed out that the Hesaraghatta lakebed area and grasslands in the surrounding catchment area are an important reservoir of biodiversity and a refuge for endangered wildlife species like the lesser florican and leopard, yet remain outside the protected area network and face severe threats to its biodiversity.

“This area is a large carbon sink for our city and can be a powerful tool to mitigate climate change and counter the rapid urbanisation of Bengaluru. The landscape surrounding the lakebed is the last remaining grassland habitat in the Bengaluru region and supports unique biodiversity. The Hesaraghatta Lake was an important source of drinking water to the city till 1994 and could be revived as a catchment area,” they said in the letter.

They have also brought it to the notice of the Chief Minister the 2012 PIL petition filed by the Arkavathy Mathu Kumudvathy Nadi Punaschetana Samithi in the High Court of Karnataka objecting to a similar proposal as the land is an important catchment of Arkavathy / Hesaraghatta reservoir. “The petition was closed when the government gave an undertaking to preserve the land,” said one of the environmentalists who is party to the letter.

They have also explained that the greater Hesaraghatta area, not limited to the 345 acres of grassland, is an ecologically sensitive zone and a necessary part of the community livelihood as local farmers graze their cattle.

Conservation reserve

“We have submitted multiple proposals to the Forest Department to declare the 5,000 acres as a Conservation Reserve under section 36A of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. We believe that it is the only way we can ensure that this area remains as it is. We request you not to consider this area for building a film city,” the letter concludes.

Forest Department officials, however, have maintained that similar plans are in the offing. A senior officer told The Hindu that the proposal to convert the grasslands into a conservation reserve are afloat and it is likely to be brought up in the next meeting of the Wildlife Board.

Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan was unavailable for comments.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 2:18:30 PM |

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