An expert committee will decide the fate of 17 projects near tiger reserves — including seven in Transport Minister Kamal Nath’s constituency and a memorial for late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S.R Reddy.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has asked former director of Project Tiger P.K. Sen and three others members of NCTA to conduct field inspections and consultations to evaluate the impact of these projects on the local tiger population.
“The month’s time given to Sen committee to submit the report is very less,” said Ajay Marathe, an activist opposing a mining project in Tadoba landscape, which falls in Kamal Nath’s constituency, Chhindwara. “The government seems to be in a tearing hurry.”
India’s tiger population has fallen to 1,411 in 2007 due to shrinking natural habitats. Despite that, governments of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have sought environment clearances for power and coal mining projects in tiger landscapes.
The Environment Ministry, refused to approve the projects and has asked NCTA to examine the projects falling in buffer zones and corridors of the tiger reserves. The NCTA has not put any adverse remarks against the seven projects in Chhindwara or Bandhavgarh.
The only project over which NCTA has expressed reservations is “illegal construction of Smruthi Vanam in the memory of late CM” of Andhra YSR Reddy. “Proposed in the notified Gundla Brameswaram Wildlife Sanctuary, in violation of rules, procedures and prevailing Supreme Court orders,” NCTA said, in an order notifying the constitution of Sen committee.
Sen, when contacted, said he was visiting the project sites.