The State government’s proposal to reduce the buffer zone of Vedanthangal bird sanctuary to promote commercial activities has become a political issue, which has created a furore also on social media.
Two days ago, MDMK general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Vaiko also expressed similar views. In a statement, he had urged the Centre not to give nod for the State’s proposal that would shrink the bird sanctuary by over 40 per cent. Vaiko also alleged that the National Board for Wildlife, formed in 2014, has never met and the Minister-in-charge was taking all decisions without any consultation.
Social activists and wildlife lovers have also started online petitions and videos explaining Vedanthangal’s ecological significance to Chennai. They also appealed the government to withdraw the proposal submitted to the National Board of Wildlife.
“Bird-watchers across India visit Vedanthangal and the entire fraternity of birders are shocked. We will appeal to the State and hope that the controversial proposal is withdrawn,” said KVRK Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust. Vedanthangal documentation dates back to the 18th century and is home to birds for decades.
Twitter and Facebook are filled with requests seeking protection to the bird sanctuary, he said, adding that the State and Centre should consider the appeals from the public.
In a one-minute video, “Save Vedanthangal”, wildlife lover Deepak Nambiar urged the stakeholders to join hands in protecting the habitat reserved for migratory birds. “With advanced engineering, industries and buildings can be created anywhere. Why damage a habitat dedicated for birds,” he asked. Pointing out that the wetland was a lab for biologists, Nambiar said that the bird watchers would intensify their protest.
“The State does not care about wildlife. During the early ‘80s, Guindy National Park was butchered and a major portion of the land was given to private and educational institutions. In late ’90s Pallikaranai marshland was leased out to IT companies and now they are eying Vedanthangal,” Nambiar fumed. “The State fails to understand that we need birds around us to ensure a healthy life, free from parasites and insect invasions,” he added.
With the government transferring the Environment and Forest secretary Shambu Kallolikar, addressing the Vedanthangal controversy would be a task for the new secretary of Forest Department, Sandeep Saxena.