Over 3.44 lakh trees to be cut in Jharkhand’s Palamau Tiger Reserve
With the water resource department planning to begin the operation of cutting over 3.44 lakh trees in Jharkhand’s Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR) for North Koel project, also known as Mandal dam, wildlife experts have raised an alarm button terming it a further damage to ‘tiger-less’ reserve.
As per the latest All India Tiger Estimation (AITE) results, released on July 29, no tiger was recorded in the reserve during the estimation.
The reservoir project threatens to submerge 3,44,644 trees in the reserve.
The water resource department has already got the permission for felling of the trees and it claimed to have deposited Rs 461 crore to the forest department for the purpose. Since it falls in forest land, it requires a formal NOC from the state forest department.
“We have sought NOC from the forest department to begin several works including on forest land,” said Mukesh Kumar, chief engineer of water resource department, Daltonganj.
Kumar said if everything moved on dotted lines, the work could begin after rainy season. “Centre’s agency WAPCOS Pvt limited will execute the tree felling work,” he said.
The union environment ministry, in August 2017, had approved diversion of 1,000 hectares of forest land for the revival of Mandal Dam, which involves felling of trees in buffer area of the tiger reserve.
Opposing the move, former state chief wildlife warden, Pradeep Kumar, said felling of such large number of trees would impact the ecosystem of the reserve.
“The reserve has already suffered significant damage due to expansion of the state’s road and railway network. Now, felling of trees will add further damaged to the biodiversity,” he said.
Palamau, notified a year after former PM Indira Gandhi announced Project Tiger in 1973, is one of the oldest among such reserves in India.