Govt comes to rescue of Himalayan National Park

A wildlife institute paints a grim picture of the sanctuary with many endangered species, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Oct 29, 2006 18:19 IST

A report by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) blaming unplanned development for degradation of Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in Himachal Pradesh has woken the ministry of Environment and Forest from the slumber, forcing the ministry to refuse permission to Parbati Phase-II till they implement Rs 54 conservation plan.

The institute has encompassed a sorry figure for the sanctuary saying that the population of many endangered species is declining because of loss of green cover and increased industrial activity.

Three Gyps vultures - white-backed, slender-billed and long-billed - have shown a drastic decline in their population, the report states.

Sighting of many other threatened species like Snow Leapord, Himalayan Brown Bear, Asiatic Black Bear, Himalayan Wolf, Tibetan Argali, Himalayan Musk Deer and Koklas has fallen in the state in recent years. Forest cover in the area has also witnessed some decline.

The GHNP is spread over five wildlife-protected areas and three managed forests in the districts of Kannaur, Shimla and Kullu.

It also acts as a water catchment area for two prominent rivers, Sutlej and Beas, apart from providing enormous potential for hydropower projects.

WII says that several sequential hydel projects has pumped a lot of money in the area, thus creating employment avenues, but has caused "irrecoverable" and "compounding" loss to the bio-diversity of the park. The report terms the condition of the landscape in the park as 'grave'.

While suggesting that future hydel projects like phase two of Parbati Hydel Project should not be allowed without proper bio-diversity conservation plan, WII has estimated that Rs 54 crore will be require to rejuvenate the forest and wildlife area.

The institute has also recommended that forest rights of those living near the sanctuary should be restored and they should be allowed to participate in implementing the restoration plans.

The money should come from Parbati Hydel Project Corporation if it wants environment clearance for the phase II, WII report states.

The money should be provided to Chief Wildlife Warden of Himachal to be spent in five constituent areas of the national park.

In wake of WII report and its own survey, the ministry of environment and forest has refused environment clearance to the project for the time-being.

"The loss to ecology will be huge if clearance to phase-II is given in the present format," a senior environment ministry official said.

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First Published: Oct 29, 2006 17:50 IST