THE UTTARAKHAND State Wildlife Board on Tuesday cleared a proposal to cancel the notification of Shivalik Elephant Reserve, which is spread over 5,409 square km, in the state. The formal order for canceling the notification will be issued by the state forest department.
Sources said the board passed the proposal at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat as forest officials argued that the notification for elephant reserve was creating hurdles in development work in that area.
The officials said at the meeting that the elephant reserve has no legal sanctity and there is no provision for it in forest and wildlife Acts.
In 2002, the state government had notified the Shivalik Elephant Reserve after obtaining permission from the Centre. There are 14 forest divisions inside this reserve.
Chief Wildlife Warden JS Suhag confirmed the board’s decision and said even after the notification is canceled, the area will remain a reserve forest and rules of Forest Conservation Act will remain applicable there.
Another official said an elephant reserve is unlike a tiger reserve where there are certain restrictions and provision of punishment for violating them. “Certain formalities of obtaining clearances for development work will get reduced after cancellation of the notification,” the official said.
Suhag said the board’s decision has no connection with the expansion of the Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun. In October, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had asked the state government to consider avoiding sensitive areas of Shivalik Elephant Reserve while exploring land for expansion of the Jolly Grant airport. The forest conservation division of MoEF made the observation in response to a state government proposal for diversion of 87 hectare of forest land for the project.
The board also approved a proposal to allow 100 tourists and 20 vehicles a day to Nilong Valley, located near China border in Uttarkashi district. Till now, 25 tourists and five vehicles are allowed in that area a day.
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