Monday, February 7, 2011

India's Environment Ministry Approves Ropeway Construction in Gir Forest

An Asiatic lioness in Gir Forest

The Indian Environment Ministry has recently given clearance for the construction of a ropeway in Gujarat's Gir Forest National Park, despite objections that it could lead to the downfall of the local vulture population. According to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, he had heard several reasons for opposing the construction and supporting it and believed that it would minimize any man-animal conflict in Gir Forest. He further added that the ropeway would provide a convenient way of transporting thousands of pilgrims on their daily visit to a holy spot on Mount Girnar. This major project has been pending since 1995, and the clearance was first sought by the environment ministry in 2008 after the Girnar forest reserves was declared a wildlife sanctuary. Environmentalists insist that the project would have a major impact on the vultures who roost on the mountain crannies. According to Minister Ramesh, the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) will make a final decision based on a report sent by the Gujarat government. The NBWL had initially advised against the construction of the ropeway, saying it could lead to the extinction of the vultures after its visit last year.

I personally feel that the construction of this ropeway will have a major impact on the local vulture population. These huge birds are in critical numbers all over India as a result of diclofenac, and other harmful factors. One of them, in this case, is habitat destruction. In my opinion, the best idea would be to give up this project since it happens to cut right through a wildlife sanctuary. If this construction prevails, then all the animals making their home in the sanctuary would be greatly affected in some form even though it would minimize any risk of man-animal conflict. I think it would be best to come up with a harmless alternative, which would not only affect the wildlife but also help pilgrims safely go to Mount Girnar without running into any fatal conflict with a wild animal like a lion or a leopard.

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