Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Goa government for slashing buffer zones around sanctuaries


Panaji, Aug 30 (IANS) Contrary to assurances given by the Goa government to
crack down on rampant mining in forest areas, its report submitted to the
union Ministry of Environment and Forests has recommended drastic reduction
of eco fragile zones near wildlife sanctuaries.

Environmentalists as well as opposition parties have slammed the government
over the report on eco fragile zone.

Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Shashi Kumar told IANS that the report,
which was prepared by former state revenue secretary Rajiv Yaduvanshi, had,
in fact, recommended in some cases doing away completely with the buffer
zones around wildlife sanctuaries like Netravali, Bhagwan Mahavir and Mhadei
favouring their reduction to zero metres.

The gist of the report, which is pending with the central government for
approval, is that the area and extent of eco sensitive zones will be decided
on a case to case basis, Kumar said. The buffer zones were earlier five

In some cases, the buffer zones around these sanctuaries will be reduced to
less than five kilometres and in some to zero metres, he said. We have
asked the centre to expedite a decision on the report. We are sending them
constant reminders to inform us about the status of the report, Kumar said.

The report, after conducting field inspections, has also recommended that
the entire buffer zone along the Netravali and Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife
sanctuaries, which are located along the states eastern border, shared with
Karnataka, be reduced to zero metres.

The issue of mining in and around wildlife sanctuaries rocked the recently
concluded monsoon session of the state assembly.

The draft mineral policy tabled by the state government also advocates
mining in close vicinity of wildlife sanctuaries.

Environmentalists have protested against the report. We have raised our
objections to the report with the state government. The sole purpose of the
report is to encourage mining, said green activist Claude Alvares of Goa
Foundation, an environmental monitoring action group.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has repeatedly alleged that several
cabinet ministers in the Congress-led alliance government were involved in
illegal mining.

Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar had also alleged that nearly 18
percent of Goas 33 million tonnes iron, manganese and bauxite mining
exports were fed by illegal mining. There are presently more than 100 mining
leases in the state.

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