Hydro-electric projects costing wildlife: Kumble

Ecological concern

State Wildlife Board Vice Chairman Anil Kumble at the Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary, in Srirangapatna Taluk on Tuesday. He came to Ranganthittu after his visit to Hassan recently.  Dr Swaminathan and Ramchandru are also seen. Dh photo

Speaking to reporters at Kaginahare and Kenchanakumeri protected forest area here on Monday, where he visited Maruthi Zen hydro-electric project site located in the famous western ghats which is considered the hotspot of biodiversity, Kumble said wildlife habitat had been seriously damaged.

Stating that activities such as constructing roads which are a good six meter in width, amidst the dense rainforest, creating tunnels to supply water for the project, noise-pollution that is created as a result of all the ongoing work, destruction of green cover with trees being cut down, the traffic that has entered the forests -- all this has impeded the freedom of wildlife in the area. “We cannot really say the extent of damage right away. Soon, a report will be submitted to the government after conducting an indepth study of the hydro electric project, and the losses it has caused to the natural habitat in the area, including the destruction of the forest,” he said.

Further he also pointed out that he had received many complaints regarding the destruction of forests in the name of setting up hydro-electric projects and other power generating initiatives. “Depleting green cover will be the perspective with which the final report will be drafted before putting it in front of the government. Earlier, such projects could be taken up after preliminary study.

However, now things have changed. Today, such projects need to obtain clearance from our Board as well, before going ahead and we are certain that we will not allow any projects that would disturb the natural habitat and life of animals in the area in short or long term,” he added.

Further, he also said a website detailing the activities of the Board is also awaiting launch by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.

A new scheme has also been designed for the welfare of labourers working on daily wages in Project Save Tiger which entitles them to Rs one lakh compensation if they wish to take voluntary retirement after serving for 10 years, he revealed.   

Anil Kumble was here to spearhead the study which will delve into the effects of hydro-electric projects in such bio-diversity hotspots, and prepare a report which will be submitted to the government.

He walked a good two kilometers to the spot where the Maruthi Zen hydro-electric project is located from the Bangalore - Mangalore highway, former Cricketer Anil Kumble took pictures of the destruction and loosening of forest soil as a result of the project in his personal camera. Conservator of Forest Nagaraj, Deputy Conservator of Forests Ambadi Madhav, Assistant Conservator of Forests Chandregowda, RFO Ratna Prabha and Satish Chandra and others provided him with the neccessary information. State Wildlife Board member and wildlife expert Sanjay Gubbi and others were present.

On the occasion, Kumble also planted a sapling. Members of various organisations working to save western ghats submitted a memorandum to Kumble and briefed him about the problems faced by residents in the area. 

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