Members say it will help ganja cultivators, encourage poaching

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court on August 7 rejected a proposal cleared by the Tamil Nadu Government for laying a road connecting Karumbarai in Theni Forest Division with the grizzled giant squirrel sanctuary near Watrap in Virudhunagar district. According to Ministry of Environment and Forests sources, the CEC, after inspecting the areas in Theni and the sanctuary on June 13, held public hearing on four occasions. The last one was on August 7, at which it announced the rejection of the proposal.

Heritage tag will attract more visitors

Ecotourism activities in the World Heritage Sites of the Western Ghats may be streamlined after assessing the carrying capacity of the individual sites. While inscribing the 39 serial sites of the Ghats, the World Heritage Committee has asked India to initiate “proactive responsible tourism management in anticipation of increased future visitation, and to ensure that visitation remains within the capacity of the property.”

Even as the Empowered Committee has pointed out the possibility of a new dam as an alternative to the Mullaperiyar dispute, Kerala’s proposal regarding the same is likely to face a hard time getting the green signal from the various departments and environmental agencies.

In its report, the Empowered Committee had pointed out the possibilities for alternative solutions which includes a new reservoir. With the proposed location for the new dam falling within close proximity to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, the Forest Department is bound to have second thoughts before granting approval for any construction-related activities here.

25 hectares of forestland resumed in operation

In a joint operation on Monday, the Forests and the Police Department evicted two groups of tribespeople who had allegedly encroached upon 25 hectares of vested forestland at Ayanikkal, Panamthara, Chanadkkunnu and Periya Muppathanju in the Periya range of forest under the North Wayanad forest division.

At a time when the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) is facing threats due to construction activities and illegal entry, the proposal for declaring an Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) around the national park is still in cold storage.

Though the proposal has reached the state government sometime back, it has not been sent to the Union Government, for unknown reasons. The Forest Department has been on a mission to protect the national park. Earlier, there were demands for a wider buffer zone for the sanctuary. It has been pointed out that a buffer zone of merely 44 sq kms would not be sufficient for a tiger reserve like Periyar.

It has become clear that the report of the empowered committee appointed by the Supreme Court on the Mullaperiyar issue was one-sided and completely against the interest of Kerala, former Water Resources Minister N.K.Premachandran has said.

Inaugurating the public meet held here in connection with the completion of 2,000 days of hunger strike here, he said all the governments of Kerala supported have supported the policy for a new dam at Mullaperiyar.

Wildlife officials have submitted a proposal to the State Government to create a new tiger reserve in the existing Grizzled Giant Squirrel sanctuary in Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district.

Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Conservator of Forests, Virudhunagar Circle, says that in the recent population monitoring exercises, tigers were sighted frequently in the sanctuary's middle and upper ridges. In the recently concluded census, participants sighted an adult tigress with two of her cubs in the foothills of Rajapalayam Range of the sanctuary.

Shrinking of core forest area, lack of awareness too are factors

The rising number of man-animal conflicts are caused by commercial cultivation of soft crops in the border areas and human habitation in forest areas, blocking the path taken by wild animals, especially elephants, said Forest Department sources.

With the Sabarimala pilgrimage season in full swing, the State is intensifying its activities to deal with the plastic threat at the hill temple.

The Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) has started preparations for conducting the tiger census which will begin in December.