Following an order of the Supreme Court on a petition on Monday, the green nod given to nine government and private projects in Gujarat by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has been kept in abeyance. These projects include a 40-km stretch of road passing through the Wild Ass Sanctuary and a 22-km stretch of Kutch Branch Canal of the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Project passing through the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary.
Both the projects, which are considered significant for Gujarat, and the environment clearances, granted to the same by NBWL on August 12, were pending for quite some time. Though, following the change of political dispensation at Centre, with Narendra Modi taking over as the Prime Minister, NBWL was reconstituted.
The newly constituted NBWL has two members from Gujarat: retired IFS officer of Gujarat, H S Singh, and Gujarat Ecological Education & Research (GEER) Foundation.
Following the decision of the NBWL on August 12, clearing nine projects of Gujarat, along with many others across the country, chief minister Anandiben Patel had thanked Union Minister of Forest & Environment, Prakash Javadekar, for clearing the Gujarat government’s projects.
Meanwhile, the re-constitution of NBWL has been challenged in the Supreme Court on several grounds. While acting on the petition, the Green Bench of the apex court on Monday restrained the re-constituted NBWL from executing any decision taken by it till further orders.
Sources in the state government said that following the SC order, all nine projects that got green nod from NBWL have been put in abeyance.
The Gaduli-Santalpur Highway connecting Kutch district with Patan district, which passes through Wild Ass Sanctuary, is considered important from the security perspective of the Border Security Force (BSF).
Wild Ass Sanctuary is the only sanctuary in the country for wild ass. And, so, environmentalists opposed any disturbance to the sanctuary.
The Kutch Branch Canal would bring water to the far end of the parched Kutch district. The total length of Kutch Branch canal is 360 km and the permission for the 22-km stretch was given by the NBWL on August 12 which now has been put in abeyance.