Govt sets up panel to de-notify half of Great Indian Bustard’s home in Rajasthan
The Rajasthan government is allegedly planning to set up windmills in the de-notified area.india Updated: Jun 16, 2017 12:09 IST
The environment ministry has set up a committee to consider de-notifying almost half of the India’s only desert sanctuary - Desert National Park - home to more than half of the India’s population of the endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB) apparently for easier proliferation of wind mills.
The Rajasthan governments had proposed to free 1,400 square kilometers of the total 3,162 for “other uses” saying there was no wildlife in the zone. The state wildlife board headed by chief minister Vasundhara Raje approved the proposal last year and formed a committee to examine the rationalisation of the boundary.
The decision was challenged in the Bhopal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the ground that the area had other wildlife such as desert fox, desert cat, chinkara and monitor lizards, which the state forest department did not consider wildlife.
The NGT while disposing off the petition asked the environment ministry to examine the proposal.
In lieu of this, the ministry has constituted a committee of expert members of the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) HS Singh and R Sukumar to examine the proposal. The committee will be assisted by a representative of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and a nominee of the wildlife division of the ministry, said the minutes of the latest standing committee meeting.
The Centre has also sought comments of the chief wildlife warden of Rajasthan on the proposal to de-notify parts of the national park. “It has been mentioned in the petition that the respondents are going to de-notify an area of 1400 square km out of an area of 3162 square km of the protected area for commercial purpose,” the minutes read.
The petitioners have told the NGT that the Rajasthan government planned to set up windmills in the de-notified area as the region in Jaisalmer and Barmer have huge potential to generate power from the renewable source.
Several windmills are already operational outside the park, considered biggest home for bustards locally godavan.
Wildlife Institute of India scientist VY Jhala told HT last month that in Rajasthan the birds face the risk of hitting electricity lines near windmills in the desert national park, where they are found in large number. This was after conservations demanded underground power lines in the park to prevent deaths of the bustards.
In the last count in 2013, their number was less than 200, down from thousands a few decades ago. The bustards are mostly found along India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
However, the Rajasthan forest department officials said the state wildlife board in October 2016 had decided against de-notification saying it was not feasible. The decision was based on a feasibility study done by former IAS officer MK Ranjitsinh which said that rationalization of the boundaries will be detrimental for future of the endangered species.
Sources said that the environment ministry has now revived the proposal.
(With inputs from Sachin Saini in Jaipur)