Environmentalists slam Vedanthangal denotification proposal

Environmentalists on Friday slammed the Tamil Nadu Forest Department for proposing to reduce the boundary of the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary to just 3 km and called for an inquiry to be initiated against officials who approved such a change and sent it to the National Board for WildLife (NBWL) for approval.

They also condemned the top brass of the Forest Department 'for putting out false information that the demarcation was being done on the basis of the Central government asking all sanctuaries to demarcate zones as core zone for the first kilometre, buffer zone for the next two and the outer two kilometres as the eco-sensitive zone'.

In a virtual press conference, Prerna Singh Bindra, Former Member, NBWL, Dr. Asad Rahmani, former Director of Bombay Natural History Society, Dr. Ritesh Kumar, Director, Wetlands International South Asia, M. Yuvan of Madras Naturalists Society, and Nityanand Jayaraman, Chennai Solidarity Group, called for the proposal to be dropped and an inquiry initiated against officials.

“The letter of the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) is very clear that it plans to denotify the 2km. They cannot cover this up. The consent of the State Board for WildLife was not taken by them. This change was brought in and just circulated. This denotification is a very serious matter. On many earlier occasions, NBWL has sent back such requests,” Ms. Bindra said.

She further said that the letter of the CWW spoke of the delays faced by industries in getting clearances for setting up their units. “The job of the Forest Department is to protect the forests and the livelihoods of those around it. It is not their job to worry about clearances for industries,” she said.

Dr. Rahmani said Vedanthangal is an ecological heritage that we have received from our forefathers, and is an important example on how communities have come forward to conserve nature.

Dr. Kumar said any activity that impacts one wetland would impact the whole food chain ecosystem, the fly-ways through which birds move and swim-ways through which fish move. “These industries are going to be highly detrimental to the species….this is going to be dangerous to the food chain. There is nothing positive about this,” he said.

The proposed denotification, intentionally or unintentionally, will work in favour of a number of hazardous industries, including Sun Pharma, currently operating illegally within sanctuary limits, Chennai Solidarity Group said. "TNPCB and TNFD are guilty of allowing such a dangerous unit to function inside the sanctuary in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act. Contrary to TNPCB’s claim that the company operated in compliance with all rules, TNPCB’s own records reveal that Sun Pharma operated without a valid license between June 2018 and January 2020", the Group said in a press release.

Mr. Jayaraman said irrespective of whether the proposal gets dropped or not, the forest department must be held accountable “for colluding with industries and speaking of hardships of industries when its job is to protect the forests and the livelihoods associated with it”.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 7:48:48 AM |

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