Board nod must for pushing State’s case for new dam

The State Wildlife Board on Thursday will decide on a request for conducting an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the new Mullaperiyar dam in the Periyar Tiger Reserve area and the declaration of eco-sensitive zones around wildlife sanctuaries of Kerala.

The first meeting of the recently reconstituted board will take up a proposal for an increase in the water level of the Peppara dam in Thiruvananthapuram. The clearance of the board is required for pushing the State’s application for the new dam. The delay in reconstituting the board had delayed the proceedings in the case.

Failed monsoons have led to an acute scarcity of water

Drinking water rationing is being considered in Kerala, the land of 44 rivers. Acute scarcity of drinking water has gripped most of the districts in the State, and the authorities may ration the quantity of drinking water for each household. The situation may turn worse during the peak summer months when most of the drinking water sources either dry up or are reduced to a trickle, it is feared.

The increasing incidence of man-animal conflict in northern Kerala have prompted wildlife researchers to go to the root cause of the issue.

Besides the straying of tigers and leopards into human habitations in some districts, human-elephant conflicts were reported from Palakkad and Malappuram districts. The incidents were relatively new in these districts and the reasons needed to be probed thoroughly, said E.A. Jayson, Head of the Wildlife division of the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi.

Surveillance cameras will soon monitor the physical changes of the waters of River Periyar.

The Kerala State Pollution Control Board is embarking on a video surveillance programme for the river system in association with Keltron for real time monitoring of the water body. Senior officials from the two agencies will inspect the river system next week to finalise locations for installing the cameras. The project is to install six cameras downstream Pathalam Bund, said K. Sajeevan, chairman of the board.

Wildlife biologists are looking into incidents of animals being run over on forest routes and its impacts on wildlife in Kerala.

The study, pioneered by P.S. Easa of the Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, will focus on the road between forest check-posts at Vazhachal and Malakapara and the stretch between the check-posts of Chinnar and Meladi. A good number of wild animals, including hare, amphibians, and reptiles, are killed by vehicles every year. However, these roadkill go unrecorded as focus has always been on large animals, said Mr. Easa.

A proposal to classify river courses in the State into various eco-zones for their conservation and management is getting ready.

This forms part of the guidelines prepared by the Department of Environment and Climate Change for the conservation and protection of river systems in the State. The eco-zones, it is proposed, will be demarcated based on the climatic and geomorphic features of each course, the extent of its degradation, and the scope for its restoration. Permissible activities will be notified for each zone.

Meeting today to consolidate views of the governmentd

A high-level working group on Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report has sought the views of the State government on the report. The State government has been asked to list out the acceptable recommendations, unacceptable ones, and those which can be accepted with modifications. The modifications the government wishes to see in the report should also be communicated to the group headed by K. Kasturirangan. The group has also forwarded a format for the State government to furnish its comments. The State government was asked to file its views before September 19.

‘Project tunnels not to reach State’s territory’

No direct study has been done on the possible ecological impact in Idukki from the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project as “no surface activity/construction is envisaged in the area [district],” says the rapid Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the project. P.A. Aziz, Director of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), who led the assessment, says Kerala has been excluded from the study as the project map provided shows its tunnels not reaching the State’s territory.

Great Indian Bustard, White-bellied Heron on the brink

The White-bellied Heron, the Great Indian Bustard, the Peacock Tarantula and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper of India are among the 100 most threatened species of the planet and “closest to extinction.” The Javan Rhino and Sumatran Rhino — considered extinct in India — are also present in the list compiled by scientists of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).The list was released by the Zoological Society of London and the IUCN at the World Conservation Congress being held in the Republic of Korea.

The implications of classification in the State

The zonation of the Western Ghats region, as proposed by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), is coming under the scrutiny of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB). The Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Thrissur, has already completed the case study of a district to understand the implications of the zonation in the State.