ANDHRA PRADESH

Delay likely in forest clearance for Devadula

State yet to come up with plan to compensate for lost forest cover

Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao

WARANGAL: The forest clearance from the Central Government for the ongoing Godavari Lift Irrigation project may take longer than expected, going by the reservations raised by officials.

A two-member team - B. C. Choudhury, Head of Endangered Species Management of Wildlife Institute of India and Alka Bhargav, joint director of Ministry of Environment and Forests visited Gangaram village, from where water will be lifted.

Talking to The Hindu here on Tuesday, they said the 45-kilometre stretch of road from Eturunagaram to Gangaram via Kannaigudem was not included in the original project plan by the State Government. "Now, the Government wants to construct culverts and turn it from mud road to a permanent one. Its impact is yet to be assessed," they said.

The project envisages laying of a pipeline to a stretch of 45- kilometre bisecting the forest between Warangal and Karimnagar districts.

A total of 344 hectares of forestland is being sought for the Godavari project by the State Government. "South of Godavari is best wildlife area in the country, ideal for tiger population. We cannot allow anybody to interfere with the wildlife, particularly after Supreme Court guidelines and Central Government's new policies," said Ms. Bhargav.

Land in Anantapur

The State Government is yet to come up with an environment management plan and funds to be allocated to raise forest cover lost on account of the project. It has in principle agreed to allot land in Anantapur to raise the green cover. The Irrigation Department was asked to include the road from Eturunagaram to Gangaram village, propose alterations to it and assess its impact on the forest. The impact study done by EPTRI, Hyderabad was yet to be submitted to the Centre.

According to the Central Government officials, once all the reports were submitted by the State Government, the issue of clearance would be discussed at the meeting of Standing Committee for National Board for Wildlife. "If it objects to it, the issue will go to National Board for Wildlife chaired by the Prime Minister," they pointed out.

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