CHENNAI: In a surprise move, the State forest department has proposed to reduce the buffer zone of Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary to allow construction activity. Vedanthangal lake was notified as bird sanctuary on July 8, 1998, with an area of 30 hectares of main tank area and surrounding 5 km zonation comprising revenue area. Located just 80 km South of Chennai, it served as a perfect weekend gateway.
Now, the 5 km-zonation is being reduced to 3 km. Since the surrounding 5-km area is identified as buffer zone, the establishment of any small, medium or large industries that provide employment to the locals, is also seen with discouragement because it has to go for National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) clearance. Forest officials claim that over the years, it has been observed that birds in Vedanthangal have been nesting only in the sanctuary lake and not in the buffer zone.
“The 5-km zonation prohibits any sort of non-forestry activity land conversion, commercial construction and any other activity, unless permitted by Chief Wildlife Warden in consultation with State and NBWL. This has led to discouragement among people in surrounding villages and their non-participation in protected area management. Hence, de-notifying the outer 2-km zonation and redefining the balance 3-km zonation, would benefit most of the local population for carrying out small-scale local enterprises, land conversions, construction of houses and other activities. This would not only help in better management of the sanctuary, but also would bring back the local community for the cause of bird conservation,” an official in Vedanthangal range told Express.
However, the decision is drawing flak from environmentalists, who say denotifying the outer 2 km of buffer area will allow rampant construction activity which would compromise the flow of water to the lake. Bird watchers have been raising concerns.
5-km zone prohibits any sort of non-forestry activity unless permitted by Chief Wildlife Warden in consultation with the State and NBWL