Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday declared that a committee will be set up to plan a detailed policy on reducing man-animal conflict in the state. He was speaking at the 14th meeting of the State Wildlife Commission, also attended by Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. The CM’s statement comes in the wake of the killing of tigress T1, also known as Avni, who was shot dead in Pandharkhwada forests of Yavatmal district early in November.
Poonam Dhanwatey of Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (TRACT) suggested the idea of a separate policy on mitigating man-wildlife conflict. A K Mishra, principal chief conservator of forests, supported the idea. The CM, too, endorsed it.
Fadnavis said that a “well-researched proposal” is to be sent to the National Tiger Conservation Authority regarding allowing tourism in the rainy season inside Maharashtra’s six tiger reserves. “To increase eco-tourism and employment opportunities, we will see if tourists can be allowed inside the reserves during the monsoon as well. We will also get a team of trained elephants that can help us avoid man-animal conflict and can also help during the tiger census,” Fadnavis said.
The CM also approved the proposal for a new sanctuary called Kanhargaon, located south of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). Anish Andheria of Wildlife Conservation Trust said that the Kanhargaon forest had 10 tigers and about 28 leopards and that it should be declared a protected area since it also serves as a corridor that connects TATR to Kawal sanctuary in Telangana.
In addition, the CM has instructed the forest department to draw up a proposal to ensure that the department employs its own veterinary officers to ensure immediate check-up and medical treatment for the wild animals.
Officials also discussed upcoming projects that will pass through the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary at the meeting.
Fadnavis said that a meeting with the wildlife experts and seniors from the department will be held soon to ensure that the wildlife is not adversely affected or obstructed by the upcoming projects. Mungantiwar added, “The money needed to ensure that wildlife is not disturbed while the work of the state and national highways is undertaken in Chandrapur district will be obtained from the National Highways Authority of India. If their funds are not enough, the state government will pitch in. Our main focus is to ensure that the wild animals are not to be disturbed and are given their natural habitat while ensuring safety for the people living around them.”
Also discussed was the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project that requires 115.5 hectares of land in notified Eco-Sensitive Zone of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Tungareshwar and Thane creek flamingo sanctuaries. A K Mishra said that a committee will be formed to discuss the loss of green cover due to the project.
“There are many other projects, including the bullet train, which requires acquisition of the eco sensitive land in the national park. We have proposed to form a committee for the same. After the governor approves the same, the committee can be formed,” Mishra said.