Citizens can file complaints regarding illegal sand mining directly to the environment ministry, said Union MoS for environment Prakash Javadekar on Sunday.
At an event at the YB Chavan auditorium to observe the International Day for Biological Diversity, Javadekar said this was the first time such a step had been taken by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. “We have issued ads highlighting the seriousness of illegal sand mining,” said Javadekar.
He said the ministry has planned an ‘eco-bridge’ in central Maharashtra for the safe passage of wild animals across transport corridors.
The event was chaired by the governor of Maharashtra, Ch Vidyasagar Rao, the environment minister, officials from the United Nations Development Programme and members of the National and State biodiversity authority. Speakers spoke of protecting India’s ecology, which comprises 8% to 10% of the world’s biodiversity.
“There has been a huge drop in count of sparrow, vulture and indigenous birds not only in Maharashtra but across the country,” said Rao, adding, “I urge the environment ministry to discourage the widespread use of pesticides that could be leading to the dwindling numbers.”
R Sukumar from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, said elephant numbers in India had doubled over the past three decades. “We have observed a sharp increase in the number of elephants — from 15,000 in 1982 to 30,000 in 2016. Even the population of tigers, rhinoceros and lions is on the rise. However, considering severe climate change, the government needs a landscaping approach for wildlife rather than a protected area approach,” he said.