CHENNAI: The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has raised the issue of non-compliance over quarrying of granite from within 10 km of Vallanadu Blackbuck Sanctuary.A group of sand quarry owners have submitted a proposal with the State Chief Wildlife Warden, who has to recommend them for NBWL for clearance.
In the recent meeting, the Standing Committee of the Board has asked the State government to forward the proposal as per the laid-down procedure, but cautioned that a robust mechanism of monitoring to confirm the compliance of terms and conditions including mitigation measures, is stipulated while recommending the proposals. The committee was headed by Union Environment Minister Harsha Vardhan himself.
The minister has called for stringent action against the project proponents (quarry owners) who have not complied with the terms and conditions. “Further, no new projects would be taken-up from State where the terms and conditions are not complied,” he said as recorded in the NBWL meeting minutes accessed by Express.
Interestingly, a week ago, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had directed the Thoothukudi collector to ascertain and suspend the operation of granite quarries located within a 10-km radius of Vallanadu wildlife sanctuary, who are found guilty of operating without the clearance from NBWL and forest department.
Meanwhile, HS Singh, member of Standing Committee of NBWL, said during the field visits by different Committees constituted by the Standing Committee of NBWL, it has been observed that many projects were implemented without implementing the conditions including mitigation measures. “In other words, the interests of wildlife conservation were ignored sometimes intentionally,” he said and mentioned that the conservationists are of the view that the Protected Areas (PAs) have suffered in recent times due to sanctioning of developmental projects inside the PAs.
The Committee has decided that monitoring of the mitigative measures will be a part of the management effectiveness evaluation process conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). NBWL officials told Express that clearance for quarrying will not be given until a monitoring mechanism is put in place.
Need to fast track proposals
To restrict activities that would have an adverse impact on wildlife, NBWL has requested the Union Environment Ministry to fast track the processing of notifying eco-sensitive zones (ESZ). During the meeting, Soumitra Dasgupta, Inspector General of Forests (Wildlife) said the initial scrutiny of the ESZ proposals was carried out in the Wildlife Division, while the process of notifying them was done by ESZ Division, which was causing unnecessary delay. He opined that the entire work be assigned to the Wildlife Division.
HS Singh, Committee member, also stated that the interests of wildlife conservation have been ignored due to various developmental activities and all ESZs mandatorily must have a definite plan to accommodate the needs of wildlife. “After discussions, the Standing Committee decided that the entire responsibility of processing and the notification of ESZ would be assigned to the Wildlife Division. The Ministry would take necessary steps to implement the decision,” the minutes of the meeting reads.
A week ago, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had directed the Thoothukudi collector to suspend the operation of granite quarries without due clearance located near Vallanadu wildlife sanctuary