Sunday, February 03, 2019

Seaplane project: At Sea over Crocodiles

Gandhinagar: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi pilots his pet projects, the Gujarat government is bending backwards to ensure that his will is their command. After bulldozing tribal sentiment in the matter of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity (SOU), the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in Gujarat is clearing two ponds on the premises of the Sardar Sarovar Dam of crocodiles to enable seaplane services.

By last count, there were some 500 crocodiles, of which about 20 had been taken out until last week. But the work has been accorded priority by the forest department because of orders from the “top” though everyone clammed up on further probing.

The muggers in the Narmada are covered by Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which puts them among the most endangered species. Removing them from their habitat entails a lengthy process of permissions and reasons.
However, when it comes to such directions from the state government, these objections just fade away as no one is willing to bell the cat.

Wildlife conservation laws mandate a detailed procedure, including studies and surveys, before the translocation of endangered species is carried out. Additionally, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has laid down detailed guidelines for relocation and conservation translocation. The IUCN Special Survival Commission (SSC)—a science-based network of more than 8,000 volunteer experts globally— has also detailed the subject.

The IUCN red list of threatened species has also classed this particular crocodile in its global rating as vulnerable. In India too, it figures on the most endangered species list.
For all the red flagging by both national and international wildlife institutions, no exercise seems to have been initiated at the official level to comply with mandated regulations.

“After tribals, it is now the turn of crocodiles,” said Vadodara-based environmental activist Rohit Prajapati. The terror of tourism has been unleashed by both the state as well as the centre in the name of the Statue of Unity (SOU), said this crusader against pollution and environmental degradation.
“It is almost as if the SOU area is now not part of India, but a sovereign entity called the Statue where laws such as the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006,  Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, are just not applicable,” he added.
02/02/19 RK Misra/India Legal
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