Maharashtra to cut Nanaj sanctuary area by 85%

  • Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
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  • Updated: Oct 02, 2013 09:13 IST

Forest minister Patangrao Kadam wrote to the Union environment ministry on Tuesday, requesting them to reduce the protected area of the Nanaj Sanctuary known for the critically-endangered Great Indian Bustard from 8,000 square kilometres to 1,220 square kilometres.

The Nanaj Sanctuary, which is spread over two districts of Solapur and Ahmednagar, witnessed the number of the endangered bird dwindle from 34 in the 1990s to 10 at present.

“We have sent the request to the forest ministry at the Centre and they will be de-notifying the remaining area, which is not eco- sensitive anymore. People from both districts had approached us so that they can develop their land, which is no The Great Indian Bustard, also known as ‘Maldokh’ in Marathi, is a large bird that was once abundant on dry plains, over large expanses of grassland and scrub Weighing up to 15kg, the Bustard is among the heaviest of the flying birds in India The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognised the Great Indian Bustard as being critically endangered, with a 2011 estimate putting Hindustan Times.

In 1975, the Union government had set up three areas in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as sanctuaries the total number of mature individuals at 250.

There are just about 10 Bustards in Maharashtra at present In 1975, the Union government had set up three areas in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as sanctuaries for protection of the Bustard In Maharashtra, the Nanaj Sanctuary is currently spread over 8,000 sq km over two districts of Solapur and Ahmednagar.

However, of the 8,000 square kilometres kept aside f or Maharashtra, only 400-square kilometre land, in patches, belonging to the state foruntouched, while the remaining saw encroachment and development of cities.

Following t his, a public interest litigation was filed in the Apex Court and the state government approached the court, seeking permission to reduce the area to 300 square kilometres.

However, a panel of experts suggested retaining 14% of the sanctuary to help the Bustard survive.

“The actual eco-sensitive area comes to around 400 square kilometres but the final decision of 1,200 was taken in consideration of the buffer zones around it,” said Abdul Rahmani, director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), who was on the Supreme Court panel.

“This decision is good considering that the Bustard will be able to live in an undisturbed zone and we may even see them.


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