How’ll metro impact Aarey species? Int’l body to check
The India office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has said it will assess the impact of the Metro-3 car depot construction at Aarey Milk Colony on the rare and threatened species that may be found in the city’s green lung. According to a report submitted to the IUCN, the area is home to more than 290 wild species of flora and fauna, some of which are categorised as “near threatened” or “vulnerable”.
IUCN’s decision comes after city-based wildlife conservation group Empower Foundation submitted its second report – titled “Evidences of Wildlife in Aarey Forest” – within a week to the India office of IUCN on Wednesday. Among the hundreds of species of animals and flora found in Aarey, Empower Foundation highlighted the presence of five wildlife species that are categorised as “near threatened” or “vulnerable” under IUCN’s Red List. Rusty spotted cats and the Alexandrine parakeet are listed as “near threatened” while leopards, sambar deer and the red wattled lapwing are classified as “vulnerable”.
“IUCN expects conservation aspects will be taken care of while integrating a project (Metro-3) of this magnitude,” said Vivek Saxena, the India head of IUCN and former deputy inspector general of forests (wildlife), Union environment ministry. “We need to first go through details of this issue. IUCN recommendations are always for the conservation of wildlife, especially species on the Red List, as per national laws and mitigation measures.” Saxena said he needed feedback and input from the state government on the issue.
Aarey is spread across 1,281 hectares (ha) in the western suburbs of Mumbai. The Maharashtra government plans to build a car depot as part across 33 ha as part of the Metro project, which will require the felling of over 2,600 trees. According to a 2019 study, there are at least nine leopards, protected under schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in Aarey.
On Saturday, Empower Foundation had submitted its first report to IUCN, in which it alleged that the construction of the car shed was being undertaken without approval from the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife under the Union environment ministry and in defiance of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules, 2004.
The second report submitted a checklist of 290 species of flora and fauna that may be found in Aarey and highlighted alleged gaps in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposed car-depot on the city’s green lung. “The EIA study on the basis of which the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) sanctioned the loan has stated that there is no wildlife in Aarey,” said Jalpesh Mehta, founder, Empower Foundation.
Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said the current tourism boom in Jammu and Kashmir is due to the rising temperature in the rest of the country and not because of any improved situation in the UT. Azad made the assertion, reiterating his stand on the Delimitation Commission report, saying that “the tailor-made report is in contradiction with the ground realities”. He is scheduled to return to Srinagar on Sunday.
The army on Saturday said that the infiltrator killed on the LoC in Tangdhar was carrying drugs and his accomplice managed to flee towards Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The army termed the incident a narco-smuggling bid that was foiled on Friday.
Seeking relocation outside the Valley, people belonging to the migrant Kashmiri Pandit community staged protest in Srinagar on Saturday. Since the killing of a government employee, Rahul Bhat, inside the tehsil office in Budgam's Chadoora on May 12, migrant Pandit staffers have been agitating across Kashmir at their transit locations. The protesters, many among whom were women, said they didn't feel safe in Kashmir any more, especially after the killing of Bhat.
As the video clip of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha's deputy speaker Hansraj slapping a student during his visit to a government school in Chamba has gone viral, the Congress has asked the government to initiate action against him. Congress spokesperson and former chairperson of state commission for child rights protection also flayed Hansraj. Hansraj had also defended his act, stating that such action is needed at times to teach students discipline.
At the time when a prolonged dry spell coupled with soaring mercury across the country has triggered an unprecedented heatwave, the arid climatic conditions prevailing in Himachal Pradesh have caused extensive damage to the rabi crops. In March and April, the hill state recorded a rain deficit of over 90% and 89%, which is the highest in the last two decades. The wheat crop was the worst-hit with losses estimated at ₹121.31 crore.