Wildlife sanctuaries to get bigger

Dandeli, Mookambika, Cauvery, Someshwara, BBP to be merged with forests

Wildlife sanctuaries to get bigger

The State government has extended the boundaries of a national park and four wildlife sanctuaries.

The government on December 27, 2011, notified around 1,255.64 sq km of reserve forest land as national park and wildlife sanctuaries. As per the notification, the areas of four wildlife sanctuaries – Dandeli, Mookambika, Cauvery and Someshwara, and one national park – Bannerghatta, have been extended by amalgamating them with reserve forests, thereby bringing a larger area under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The notification states that the additional reserve forests also have better wildlife habitat apart from being corridors for movement of animals. “With adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphologic, natural and zoological significance, it is suited for protecting, propagating and developing wildlife or its environment. These additional areas will act as barriers to the core area and will help in better management of wildlife habitat,” the notification reads.

The decision to alter the limits and boundaries of the sanctuaries and park was taken during the State Wildlife Board meeting chaired by then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, on July 26, 2011.

The government’s sanction of reorganisation of the forests was seconded by the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife, Ministry of Environment and Forests, which on October 14, 2011, approved rationalisation of boundaries of the forests.

Revenue villages, patta land and land already allotted by the government for non-forestry purpose will not be included. The rights of waters and various other rights as notified earlier for the respective reserved forests will continue, the notification adds.

Additional Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary, Forests, Kaushik Mukherjee said: “The Board has analysed the proposal very critically, and has approved more areas to be reserved under wildlife conservation. A holistic view of sanctuaries has been taken to protect the forests better. Diversion of forest land for development projects will be very little,” said Mukherjee.

He said it would facilitate increased protection for the wildlife and the money utilised by the State for afforestation in the reserve forests would be used for the protection.

“We have sought additional funds from both the Centre and the State,” he added.

Forest dwellers
The officer said about 1,500 forest dwellers are in the forests of Karnataka which included the core and fringe areas. Though the boundaries are rationalised, the forest dwellers will not be evicted forcefully.

“It is for the forest dwellers to decide whether or not they want to stay on in these areas – as the government will definitely not be building schools, colleges or hospitals in these protected areas,” he said.

The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as sanctuary in 1998; Mookambika in 1974; Cauvery in 1984; Someshwara in 1979; while Bannerghatta was declared and notified as a national park in 1975.

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