Sand mining in Valmikinagar forests threatens habitation of tigers
While the Centre is planning special conservation projects for tiger reserves, Valmikinagar forests, the sole Project Tiger area in Patna, faces a threat from large-scale sand mining within the 1-km radius of the project site. Reena Sopam reports...patna Updated: Nov 11, 2009 14:49 IST
While the Centre is planning special conservation projects for tiger reserves, Valmikinagar forests, the sole Project Tiger area in Patna, faces a threat from large-scale sand mining within the 1-km radius of the project site.
There have been reports of quarrying of stones along with sand mining and the infiltrators even penetrate into forest areas. "Only recently 19 sand-laden tractors and stones were seized by the police. It indicates that sand and stone mining are going on. Though the licence has been issued for sand mining outside the protected area, stones are also being quarried in a secretive manner," a senior Project Tiger official said.
He added that several letters were written to the district administration, requesting it to stop rampant mining in the Project Tiger area, but to no avail. He said the issue was also discussed at the meeting of the District Environmental Protection Committee. However, mining continues in the area.
Of the 910 square kilometre forest area at Valmikinagar, Project Tiger occupies 840 square kilometre area.
"Licence for sand mining has been issued in the areas outside the protected forests. Though no such activity is allowed within one kilometre area of tiger sanctuary, we cannot stop it because legally, the area is not a safe zone. The tiger sanctuary is yet to be declared a Tiger Reserve under Section 38 of the revised Wildlife Conservation Act, 2006 as the buffer areas have not been demarcated," the official added.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NCTA) had asked the Project Tiger authorities to identify its core and buffer areas to be turned into a Tiger Reserve. As per the NTCA directive the authorities proposed to demarcate revised core and buffer areas and the proposal was sent to the Department of Forests and Environment in August 2008. Once cleared by the State Government, it had to be sent to the NTCA for approval.
"But the proposal of revised core and buffer areas has not been forwarded to the NTCA yet," he said.
The revised plan considers 710 square kilometre of Project Tiger area as core or critical. Around 800 square kilometres will be under buffer area and it will also cover 150 villages in the locality. "Once the area is demarcated, illegal mining may be stopped and the wildlife species will also be more safe," the official said. Despite repeated efforts, the Forest Secretary and the Forest Minister could not be contacted for their comments.