The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has allowed the drilling investigation in the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve which experiences high seismic activity due to the Koyna dam in Maharashtra. The Koyna dam comes under the core area of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve notified by the Maharashtra government.
The proposal was discussed in the NBWL meeting held on May 30 and the minutes were uploaded last month.
It was proposed to carry out a scientific drilling investigation to probe reservoir-triggered seismicity in one hectare area of Koyna Region, which is prone to tremors. The region experienced an earthquake in 1967.
The proposal has been recommended by Sunil Limaye, chief wildlife warden, State Board for Wild Life and the state government.
The chief wildlife warden, Maharashtra stated that the user agency has already drilled bore holes of 8-inch diameter in the non-forest area in the buffer zone of Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. They now want to install seismometer at a depth of 1,500 m to study the probability of earthquakes due to reservoirs.
The NBWL has decided to allow this after the project proponent shall deposit 2 per cent of the cost of proposed project with the Conservator of Forest and Field Director, Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, Kolhapur for the habitat improvement of the tiger reserve, Kolhapur and adjoining forests.
The project site should be appropriately fenced (preferably using chain link fence or pulsating fences) so that no wild animal accidentally falls within the bore hole, the NBWL minutes say.
All project activities related to drilling, movement of vehicles and humans, exploration, post-construction monitoring, maintenance etc. should continue only during daytime from 8 am to 6 pm and should be conducted in presence of a competent forest officer.
As per Union Environment Department guidelines, the construction of new approach/access routes within forest land would require prior approval under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and blasting should not be permitted.
The debris from drilling should be dumped outside the forest land. The project proponent will reclaim the land before the lease period is over, stated the minutes.
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