Representational photo.(PTI File)
Representational photo.(PTI File)

Uttarakhand wildlife board clears proposal to de-notify elephant reserve

In the late 90s and early 2000, the state government had sent a proposal to the Centre seeking a clarification regarding the said area, after which it was notified as an elephant reserve in 2002. But as per the norms of the central government, there is no law or Act yet under which the legal status of an elephant reserve is defined
By Suparna Roy | Hindustan Times, Dehradun
PUBLISHED ON NOV 25, 2020 02:01 PM IST

The Uttarakhand State Wildlife Advisory Board on Tuesday approved the de-notification of Shivalik Elephant Reserve as an elephant reserve to pave way for the expansion of the Dehradun airport project, said forest officials.

Harak Singh Rawat, state forest minister, said, “The state wildlife board, during its 16th meeting, approved the de-notification of Shivalik Elephant Reserve as there is no law to define an elephant reserve. In the late 90s and early 2000, the state government had sent a proposal to the Centre seeking a clarification regarding the said area, after which it was notified as an elephant reserve in 2002. But as per the norms of the central government, there is no law or Act yet under which the legal status of an elephant reserve is defined.”

He added that the state government will issue an official order within a few days in this regard.

“In future, if the Centre makes a law governing elephant reserves, then Shivalik area will automatically fall under its purview. We have de-notified it as of now and when the central government brings any law, we will abide by it,” said Rawat.

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In September, the state government wrote to the union environment ministry for obtaining prior approval under Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for non-forestry use of 87.0815 hectares of forest land for “expansion of the Jolly Grant Airport.” This land is within the Shivalik Elephant Reserve. Officials estimate that about 10,000 trees will be cut for the expansion.

State forest department to allow tourists in Gangotri National Park

The wildlife board also approved a notification stating the state forest department will not stop tourists going to Gangotri National Park, near the Indo-China border, if the district magistrate gives a go-ahead after checking all security measures.

“Till now, a limited number of tourists were allowed to visit the Gangotri National Park, as permission from forest department was also needed. To promote tourism, we have now decided that the forest department will not stop tourists from going to Gangotri National Park if they have the required permits from the district magistrate,” added the state forest minister.

Probe ordered in death of radio-collared elephant

Meanwhile, hours after a radio-collared elephant died in Haridwar forest division on Tuesday morning, the state government ordered a probe in the matter.

Raising the issue in front of the members of the board, Rawat instructed them to investigate the cause behind the frequent deaths of elephants in the state.

“In the past few days, elephant deaths have increased in the state, mostly due to electrocution. A radio-collared elephant died on Tuesday due to electrocution, which could have been avoided. The officials should investigate this matter and ensure that mitigation measures are put in place to prevent deaths because of electrocution,” added Rawat.

State forest department to resend proposal to NBWL to modify height of underpass in Rajaji Tiger Reserve

In October, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) had declined the Uttarakhand forest department’s request to modify conditions imposed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for the road passing through the buffer area of Rajaji Tiger Reserve, an ecologically sensitive area in terms of the movement of wildlife. The state forest department requested modifications, such as reducing the length of underpass for wild animals and its height from 8m to 5m.

During the 16th state wildlife board meeting it was decided that the state forest department will again send a proposal to NBWL, seeking a modification in the height of the underpass.

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