Rajasthan says ‘no’ to emergency airstrip on NH

Proposed area intrudes inside the Ramdevra enclosure for Great Indian Bustards.

jaipur Updated: Mar 23, 2018 22:01 IST
Sachin Saini
Sachin Saini
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
The-Nannaj-Sanctuary-is-home-to-Great-Indian-Bustards-GIB-the-largest-birds-in-their-native-range-with-long-necks-and-legs(HT File Photo)

Rajasthan has said no to National Highways Authority of India’s plan to develop an airstrip on one of the national highways in Jaisalmer.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) sought a no-objection certificate from the Rajasthan forest department for developing Phalodi-Jaisalmer highway into an emergency landing airstrip. The NOC was sought from the department as some parts of the highway fall into the forest area, which is a breeding site for the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), an endangered bird.

“The proposed area intrudes 20-30 meters inside the Ramdevra enclosure for GIB. Landing and take-off of planes would create noise and disturbance and chances are that GIBs might disappear from this area,” said Jaisalmer’s deputy conservator of forest (wildlife) Anoop KR.

The officer said the NHAI sought NOC for the highway on February 22. “We wrote back refusing the NOC,” he said.

“We have objected on a particular site as annually around 15 Great Indian Bustards come here and successfully breed. We have asked NHAI to review and apprised seniors about the issue,” he added.

In 2017, the Indian Air force (IAF) chose some national highways (NHs), including three in Rajasthan, for developing emergency landing airstrips to be used for rescue operations.

The other two NHs in Rajasthan are Nachna-Ramgarh and Barmer Jaisalmer. For these, the NHAI doesn’t need any NOC from the state.

The centre and the state government are focusing on the conservation of GIBs. Some of the initiatives are species recovery programme and setting up of GIB captive breeding centre at Sorsan (Kota) and hatchery centre at Nokh (Jaisalmer). The state government is developing additional closures, developing grassland and constructing predator-proof fencing in GIBs breeding areas.

Around 780 hectares of the Ramdevra GIB breeding enclosure (out of the total 4,500 hectares) will be affected by the airstrip, the DCF said.

“We have received results as the GIB has started breeding here since 2012. Earlier, GIBs were seen in open firing range but then shifted to Ramdevra, it might have happened due to noise,” he said.

Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), locally called Godawan, is a critically endangered species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. GIB is also Rajasthan’s state bird.

First Published: Mar 23, 2018 22:01 IST