CHENNAI: The State Forest Department has dropped the controversial proposal to reduce the core area of Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary. They also accepted that such a move would have an adverse impact on biodiversity and integrity of India’s oldest bird habitat.
The decision was communicated by Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj to the State Environment Secretary Supriya Sahu in a letter written on Wednesday.
In the letter Niraj said, bird census conducted year after year indicated presence of about 28,000 land and water birds visiting this prestigious wetland sanctuary.
“It is felt that if the existing boundary of Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is reduced, biodiversity and integrity of the sanctuary will be adversely affected, which may also result in reduction of water birds and the water regime itself, in the long run. Hence, such a proposal may have bad consequences. Therefore, I wish to inform that keeping ecological security and habitat in mind, the proposal may be considered as withdrawn forever,” the letter reads.
Vendanthangal was notified as a reserve forest in 1963 under Madras Act, 1882. The sanctuary was finally notified under section 26(1) of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 in the year 1998.
TNIE published a series of articles last year exposing how the forest department planned to denotify 40 per cent (outer 2 km) of the sanctuary area, triggering a massive campaign.
The Union Environment Ministry reportedly received 12,000 objections. Tamil Nadu State Board for Wildlife had recommended the proposal through a “circular agenda” rather than discussing it in a regular meeting.
India’s prominent conversationalists, including former director of Bombay Natural History Society Asad Rahmani and former member of the wildlife board Bittu Sahgal, along with 11 others, had written to National Board for Wildlife to reject Tamil Nadu government’s proposal and direct that it be declared a scientifically determined eco-sensitive zone around the existing sanctuary.