Asiatic Lion has a Chance

The Supreme Court of India has directed relocation of Asiatic lions from Gujarat State to Madhya Pradesh State on 15 April 2013, saying the species is under threat of extinction and needs a second home. Scientists had expressed fear that Asiatic lions can be wiped off in an epidemic or a fire. The Supreme Court Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and C.K. Prasad gave six months time for the relocation and directed that it “should be in accordance with the guidelines issued by IUCN and with the active participation of experts in the field of reintroduction of endangered species.” An Expert Committee, as indicated in the judgement, would decide about the details of relocation of lions. There has been a long drawn litigation on the subject at the Court in an Intervention Application number 100 by Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India in the Writ Petition number 337 of 1995 by the Centre for Environmental Law of WWF India.

As is well know, the Asiatic lion is presently restricted to just one location – the Gir Forests of Gujarat State of India. It’s well known proverb that you should not keep all your eggs in one basket. Furthermore, scientists have been suggesting for a second home for lions for a long time. Way back in mid 1990s after a lot of deliberations and research, a project for relocation of lions from Gir Forests in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh was prepared. Though lot of activities e.g. improvement in protection, relocation of villages, habitat management, prey-base development have been carried out at Kuno but the Gujarat government did not agree to provide the lions for relocation as per the plan, on one or the other pretext. There are around 400 lions in Gir Forests and it a question of providing few lions for creating a second home for the species at Kuno.

The Judgement can be accessed - click here

Felling of One Million Trees under Consideration

The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India is meeting on 3-4 April 2013 to consider diversion of 7468 ha of forest for 25 proposed projects. At stake are 1 million trees!

Some of the conspicuous projects involving massive tree felling are

Diversion of 1080.22 ha of forest land for Sondhur Irrigation Project in Raipur district, Chhattisgarh involves 3.4 Lac trees

Diversion of 258.867 ha of forest land in Govindgarh Reserved Forest in favour of  Jai Prakash Associates Limited for Hinauti Extension limestone mining project in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh involves 1.8 Lac trees.

Diversion of 999.328 ha of forest land in favour of Raigad forest division no.2 for the Drinking Water supply project on Kalu river in district Thane, Maharashtra involves 1.5 Lac trees.

Chhattisgarh leads the States in putting across proposals amounting to 38 percent of the trees involved i.e. 4 lac trees!

FAC Recommends Diversion of 3316 ha Forest in its February 2013 Meeting

Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India,  recommends diversion of 3316 ha of forest for 24 projects in it’s meeting on 20-21 February 2013. The number of projects recommended are a whopping 77 per cent of the total projects considered (31), while only 7 per cent have been declined.

As usual, mining takes the largest chunk of the forest diverted i.e. around 2300 ha or 70 per cent of the forest area recommended for diversion. Second place is taken by ‘roads and highways’ sector with around 400 ha or 12 per cent of the total area.

Among the states, Uttarakhand leads with maximum diversion of 1424 ha or around 44 percent of the total area.

Read more: FAC Recommends Diversion of 3316 ha Forest in its February 2013 Meeting

Critique of EIA Report of Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Project Proposed in Gujarat

Westinghouse, the company proposed for building up the reactor for the project is not known to have experience of working at coastal sites as well as the Saurashtra region where the plant is proposed has erratic rainfall and thus thunderstorms and heavy rainfall with potential for large scale disasters cannot be ruled out, are among some of the issues highlighted in a recent critique of the EIA Report of Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Project.

This is a project proposed on the western coast of the Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat. It will use 4.25% enriched uranium as their fuel and will use the sea water for their condenser and primary cooling purposes. The reactors, AP-1000, are designed to produce a net power output of 1117 MWe.

The Critique is titled ‘Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Project EIA and the “selective Environmental Blindness” of the EIA Consultant’ authored by V.Pugazhenthi, V.T.Padmanabhan, R.Ramesh for People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), Paryavaran Surraksha Samiti. Some highlighted issues are listed below. 

Read more: Critique of EIA Report of Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Project Proposed in Gujarat

Public Hearing for a Leather Complex in Andhra Pradesh Concluded, Is It?

Krishnapatnam International Leather Complex (KILC) is proposed on 538 acres of land at Kothapatnam in Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh State of India.

A Rapid review of the draft EIA Report reveals that it is not fully in compliance with the ‘Terms of Reference’ issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and does not follow the Technical EIA Guidance Manual for Leather/Skin/Hide Processing Industry. There are several issues with the EIA Report e.g. no detailed study on impacts on marine eco-system due to disposable of waste water; no detailed disaster management plan or risk assessment from the proposed Complex; it doesn’t take into account the presence of water bodies at the site and it also does not take into account the presence of plantation of cashew by Vana Shamrakshana Samiti. The Report is silent on the livelihood impact as the agriculture would be disturbed in the surrounding areas. Also, there are proposals for setting up of Thermal Power Projects in Nellore district which will have serious cumulative environmental impacts in the district.  

Read more: Public Hearing for a Leather Complex in Andhra Pradesh Concluded, Is It?