June 03 2017, DNA
To protect the eco-sensitive Western Ghats and the link between the Sahyadri tiger reserve (STR) and the tiger source population down south, the state forest department has rejected proposals for mining in its vicinity.
Senior state forest department sources said the STR officials had rejected clearances for bauxite mining projects at Kumbhawade in Ratnagiri’s Rajapur taluka, and Baveli and Talegaon in Kolhapur’s Gaganbawada and Radhanagari talukas.
Though the STR is the only tiger reserve in Western Maharashtra, it suffers from inadequate tiger numbers due to the poor prey base in the Koyna sanctuary and weak links in the corridor linking it to the source population in South India.
“A Nagpur-based company had sought permission for mining at the 95.57 hectare Kumbhawade site. This is in the Western Ghats area, which is a biological hotspot. The site has indirect evidence of leopards, wild boar and mouse deer presence. It also falls in the tiger movement corridor and is at an aerial distance of 39.58 km from the Radhanagari wildlife sanctuary and 55.16 km from the STR,” the official said, adding that the report had been submitted last month. The second proposal by a Kolhapur-based company for open-cast bauxite mining on 206 hectare in Kolhapur was also negated, he added.
“The site is close to the Radhanagiri wildlife sanctuary and falls in the deemed eco-sensitive zone. The region is highly fragile and the plateau is geographically positioned between river systems. The project may destroy the natural drainage system and endanger human habitation,” the official said. He added hence, the STR authorities had recommended against granting clearances due to the impact on wildlife and humans.
“The tiger movement corridor has been broken in parts of Kolhapur’s Shahuwadi due to bauxite mining and additional mining sites will deplete tiger numbers further,” the official said.
These recommendations have been sent to the Chief Wildlife Warden, who in turn will forward it to the Maharashtra State Wildlife Board and the National Board for Wildlife and union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
- The STR is the only tiger reserve in Western Maharashtra and is spread over an 1165.56 sq km landscape over the Koyna WLS and Chandoli National Park. However, it has just five to seven tigers with no resident big cats.
- The Western Ghats is an ecologically fragile region and plays a major role as the water source of Maharashtra and neighbouring states as it is the source of major rivers.