CHIEF Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday directed wildlife authorities to form a committee to study the proposal to relocate tigers from the man-animal conflict zone of Chandrapur before taking a call on the issue.
It was among several issues discussed at the virtual meeting of the State Wildlife Advisory Board, chaired by Thackeray on Friday. The meeting was held after a gap of one-and-a-half years.
State Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Nitin Kakodkar had earlier suggested the relocation of 50 tigers from Chandrapur to mitigate man-animal conflict. The idea was contested by many wildlife activists, who said it wouldn’t work and the space left in the wake of a relocated tiger would quickly be occupied by another one.
“It can’t be done in haste and would require a detailed study,” Thackeray said, adding, “We should also explore other feasible ideas.” Kakodkar said, “The chief minister suggested that other states should also be consulted for translocation.”
Thackeray, however, was unhappy with media reports of “neutering” (castrating) tigers. In the meeting, Thackeray said, “Sterilisation should be attempted only as a last resort.” Kakodkar said the plan is to sterilise the tigers, not castrate them. Thackeray also expressed his reservations about shooting a “problem animal”, and referred to the killing of Pandharkawda tigress T1 (Avni). “Avni should have been captured alive,” Thackeray said.
On the issue of the controversial broad-gauging of Akola-Khandwa railway line passing through the Melghat Tiger Reserve, Thackeray said an alternative route should be explored. He had written a letter last month to the Union Railway and Environment Ministers expressing his opposition to the idea.
On the broad-gauging of Nagpur-Nagbhid railway line, Thackeray suggested that an elevated line should be explored.
Thackeray also disapproved of the proposal for mining bauxite in 98 hectare non-forest area near Minchebudruk in Bhudragad tehsil of Kolhapur, falling in the eco-sensitive zone of Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary.
Thackeray called for setting up Transit Treatment Centres (TTCs) for wildlife in every district and appointment of veterinary doctors specialising in wildlife, not in domesticated animals.
He also agreed to notify the 2,000 sq km coastal area of Angrear plateau, 120 km from the Konkan coast, in the exclusive economic zone of India, as “designated area” for conservation of marine life there under Maritime Zones Act.
“The plateau is submerged below the sea at depths ranging between 20 and 400 metres and is rich in aquatic biodiversity like coral reef, coral fish and a host of aquatic flora and fauna. It has been identified by the Wildlife Institute of India as an important marine conservation area. Declaring it as designated area would prevent its economic exploitation and protect the diversity,” Kakodkar said.
Honorary Wildlife Warden of Chandrapur Poonam Dhanwatey had suggested that the government should have a policy for voluntary relocation of villages from buffer areas of tiger reserves on the lines of the one in core areas. “The CM agreed to the idea,” Kakodkar said.
Thackeray said there should be more sanctuaries in the state and the area of flamingo sanctuary near Mumbai will be increased. On setting up a Wildlife Academy in the state, Thackeray said, “Let’s have more such institutes at different places so many people could access it.”
Among other proposals accepted by Thackeray were laying of underground optical fiber cable under Mahanet phase 2 in Painganga Wildlife Sanctuary (Yavatmal), Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (Bhandara-Gondia) and in Raver tehsil of Jalgaon district.
The proposal to raise integrated bus shed and commercial complex in Juhu/Washi in Navi Mumbai district was also given a go-ahead in the meeting. The plan is to set it up on 1.03 ha in Thane-creek Flamingo Sanctuary area’s deemed eco-sensitive zone.
Sonneratia alba declared State Mangrove Tree
The meeting approved declaring Safed Chippi (Sonneratia alba) as the Mangrove Tree of the State. “The state has 20 mangrove tree species, of which Safed Chippi is the evergreen one. It is so called as it bears white flowers with great aroma that attract honey bees, insects and birds. Its fruits are edible and known as mangrove apples. Declaring it as Mangrove Tree of the State would increase awareness about conservation of mangroves,” the proposal had said.