Sunday, July 18, 2010

Illegal Limestone Mining Bust Near Gir Forest National Park

An Asiatic lion family

The Gir Forest National Park in the state of Gujarat has been and still is the last stronghold of the Asiatic lion. Ever since its disappearance from central and northwestern India, Gir Forest has always remained its sanctuary where it slowly and slowly began to thrive. In the midst of the 21st century, the lion population of Gujarat had increased dramatically and began to spill beyond the national park's borders and into the Junagadh district. This led to worries of man-lion conflict from local villagers living close to the park. Thankfully, there was help. Last month, conservationists and forest officials made a plan to establish breeding centers for the prey species of the lions to prevent conflict with people.

While it seems the Asiatic lion has hope for survival, the world outside Gir Forest still spells trouble. In this case, it is limestone mining. The mining department of Junagadh had just recently lodged a complaint against a group of nine people after conducting a survey in affected areas. The perpetrators had been carrying out activities in the village of Alidhar, which was close to the national park. Out of the nine suspects, three have been arrested but the remaining will later be. However, Alidhar was not the only village to be used as a mining site. Three more villages near Gir Forest were used, as quarry owners attempted to illegally dig 1.23 lakh tonnes of limestone. In addition to that, thirteen more villages near the national park's border are on the list for illegal mining.

I sure hope that officials will continue to take some serious and proactive action against illegal limestone mining near Gir Forest. This was the first time the law enforcement had acted quickly and made arrests. Earlier, all the police had done was simply issue FIRs (First Information Reports) and never made arrests due to pressure from the so-called "mining mafia." According to this year's census, 74 lions were counted to be outside Gir Forest and unless serious action is taken, many will risk perishing in the mine quarries.

View article here

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