Area of proposed elephant reserve will not be reduced: Chhattisgarh CM Baghel
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has said the area of the Lemru Elephant Reserve will not be reduced and will be spread over 1,995 square kilometres. He said the project was discussed on Tuesday at the state Cabinet meeting. “...everyone agreed that 1,995 square kilometre area is to be dedicated for elephants under this project,” Baghel said on Wednesday.
On July 3, a letter by the state forest department said ruling Congress lawmakers including minister TS Singh Deo want the area of the reserve to be reduced by one fourth. Deo said his name was wrongly included in the letter and added he never proposed to reduce the size.
Chhattisgarh has been considering the extension of the reserve. Activists want the entire catchment area of the Hasdeo River to be included in the reserve. The previous Bharatiya Janata Party government proposed the reserve in 2005 spread over 450 square kilometres. The proposal was approved in 2007 but the project never took off.
Baghel revived the plan and in 2020 sought to expand the proposed reserve to 1,995 square kilometres.
Sudeip Shrivastava, an environmental lawyer, said the 1995 square kilometre area has been proposed to keep most of the Hasdeo Arand coal blocks out of its boundary. “Obviously, the coal blocks like Parsa, Kete Extension, Gidhmuri and Paturia Dand are out of the reserve. The main catchment of Hasdeo Bango Dam is at a huge risk and mining interest has prevailed over that of farmers and tribals,” said Shrivastava.