Andaman’s endangered Narcondam hornbills may get some reprieve from environment minister Jayanthi who will take up the issue of saving the scarce bird with defence minister AK Antony.
Several environmentalists have written to Natarajan in a bid protect around 300 Narcondum hornbills, whose only home on the globe is a 6.5 sq km island in the Andamans.
The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) recently asked environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan to take a call on the Indian Coast Guard’s proposal for installation of a coastal surveillance radar, laying of a two-km road through the virgin forest, and setting up of a power supply source in the Narcondam Island Sanctuary – where the birds have been living for centuries.
The coastal guard had proposed installation of the radar to keep an eye on ships passing through Indian waters, besides poachers and intruders. “The installation of the radar would benefit wildlife by keeping a check on poaching activities,” the proposal said.
Independent members of the standing committee had opposed the move. Madhusudan of the Nature Foundation and Asad Rahmani of the Bombay Natural History Society were of the view that any such activity should be handled with the utmost caution. They have asked the coast guard to install the radar device within the already-existing police outpost on the island, instead of finding a fresh location.
The coast guards, however, told the ministry that it was not possible to install the system elsewhere and the Narcondam island was the best location. Natarajan told HT that she would be taking up the issue with defence minister Antony on finding a possible alternate location for the radar system, which is important for strategic reasons. The minister will take a final call on the issue depending on the defence minister’s response.