CHENNAI: A whopping 40 per cent of Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary area, which is an important nesting place for thousands of migratory birds, may be opened-up for commercial use, including setting-up of industries.
State Board for Wildlife has cleared forest department’s proposal to redraw the boundary of the sanctuary. The proposal has been forwarded to National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for approval.
About 30 hectares of Vedanthangal lake and 5 km of revenue land around the lake was notified as Vedanthangal Birds Sanctuary on July 8, 1998. Now, the 5 km buffer is being reduced to 3 km.
The present proposal is the 5 km zone surrounding the main lake area of 29.51 hectares of Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary to be brought down to 3 km in which first 1 km zone may be notified as Core Zone, including the lake. The next 2 km boundary may be notified as buffer zone and outer 2 km zone of the existing 5 km shall be de-notified.
Documents accessed by Express revealed that environment secretary Shambu Kallolikar has written to member secretary of NBWL recently seeking wildlife clearance to reduce the buffer zone of the bird sanctuary. Chief Wildlife Warden S Yuvaraj said the existing biodiversity of the sanctuary will not be affected and in fact would bring back the support of local community for the cause of bird conservation.
Justifying the move, forest officials say 5 km buffer area was prohibiting any sort of non-forest 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.”
Pharma firm to expand operation inside buffer area
Even as proposal to reduce the buffer zone is pending before NBWL, Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries Limited is looking to expand its operation inside the sanctuary area.
The expansion is proposed in its existing plant, which was established in 1960s. The project site is 3.72 km from the lake. An application seeking wildlife clearance has been filed on May 30 before Union Environment Ministry.
The company said all the plant already has the 40 KLD STP and 80 KLD ETP to maintain Zero liquid Discharge. “SWDs and rainwater harvesting is already available for the plant, to recharge ground water. Hence there will not be any impact on Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary due to the proposed Expansion,” it said.