Ecologists denounce idea to shrink Vedanthangal core zone
A group of renowned ecologists comprising Asad Rahmani, global council member, BirdLife International and former director of Bombay Natural History Society, Prerna Bindra, a former member of National Board for Wildlife and national resources economist Ritesh Kumar on Friday objected to the state government’s decision to shrink the core zone of Vedanthangal bird sanctuary.
Addressing a press conference organised by Chennai Climate Action Group, the organisers demanded a probe against the officials who were instrumental in mooting the proposal aimed to benefit red category companies located in Vedanthangal. “Wildlife experts and naturalists across the country are rallying against the state Forest Department and we want the National Board of Wildlife to suspend the proposal submitted by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department,” said M Yuvan, executive committee member of Madras Naturalist Society.
Noted ornithologist Rahmani said that the survival of the sanctuary and its local public will depend on the protection of catchment areas. Reduction in the size will have adverse ecological reactions.
“Contrary to the Forest Department’s claim that Vedanthangal sanctuary’s boundary will remain unchanged, an application by the Forest Department is to denotify the outer 2 km of the sanctuary. This is a serious issue that dilutes the Wildlife Protection Act and the NBWL should cancel the proposal,” said Prerna Bindra, former member, National Board for Wildlife.
India is a signatory of Ramser agreement, and they should use the wetland wisely. Further, the Supreme Court had recently directed the stakeholders and the states to record the wetlands and protect their catchment areas.
The issue is not just about birdlife, it is about the collapsing aquatic systems, said Dr Ritesh Kumar, director, Wetlands International South Asia. Pointing out that Vedanthangal is a heritage site, he said that buffer and eco-sensitive zones should be created after the original bird sanctuary boundary and not within the sanctuary.
“There are some top officials behind this proposal and the state should probe the motive behind it. The job of the Forest Department is not to help industries, but to protect the forest land and its resources,” said environment activist M Nithyanand Jayaraman.