Suheli Barrage: HC seeks Govt report
TAKING COGNISANCE of the threat to the flora and fauna in Dudhwa National Park owing to Suheli barrage, the High Court has issued directives to the State Government to submit its report by April 12.india Updated: Apr 03, 2006 00:55 IST
TAKING COGNISANCE of the threat to the flora and fauna in Dudhwa National Park owing to Suheli barrage, the High Court has issued directives to the State Government to submit its report by April 12.
Well-known wildlife activist Padma Shree Kanwar ‘Billy’ Arjan Singh had filed a writ petition claiming that the barrage on the Suheli river has changed its course causing continuous destruction to wildlife habitation, especially that of the swamp deer. This is the largest habitation of the swamp deer in the world. Initially, the population of the swamp deer was 2000, which has now reduced to about 200.
The PIL also said the barrage has adversely affected the agriculture and lives of inhabitants of the area. It has raised the level of the subsoil resulting in water logging. Consequently, lands are frequently flooded, causing irreparable harm to the crops and growers.
In 1977, a committee was constituted to preserve natural flora and fauna in Dudhwa forest and to declare it a national park. It considered the proposal of a barrage, which was planned by the Irrigation Department on River Suheli, and after detailed consideration, it decided that it should not be constructed as it would damage the park and the neighborhood adversely, in addition to endangering the local ecology.
The counsel for the petitioner Aloke Mathur said despite the aforesaid decision, warnings and protests from various environmentalists and social groups, the project of construction of the barrage was continued and completed in 1983 by the Irrigation Department in violation of decision of the high-powered committee of the government.
The park has been and established to conserve some of the endangered species of animals in their natural habitat, some of them being Swamp Deer, Rhinoceros, Hispid, Hare, Fishing Cat, Bengal Florican and Tiger.
The park has the largest population of Swamp Deer in the country. Hispid Hare was only found in this part of the State. Swamp Deer has been designated as the State animal. The Park has been brought under project Tiger to conserve the endangered species of Tiger. All these animals had been notified as endangered species in the Wildlife Act.
The only purpose of the barrage, constructed at southwest corner of the park, is to collect water for irrigation by constructing canals. At the time it was planned and construction started, it was said that it would alienate more than 17,493 hectares of land in blocks of Palia, Nighasan and Ramia Behar. There is no other purpose of the barrage other than to irrigate Land, said Advocate Mathur.
One canal has been constructed and it is claimed to irrigate 179 hectares of land being only 1% of the target area. This is the only benefit arising from the barrage.
No further canals are under construction, showing that no more land is even planned to be irrigated by this barrage. But in return to this marginal gain, its socio economic cost and the continual damage caused by it is disproportionately heavy. Rs 6.4 crore have been spent in its construction.