State wildlife board clears several projects near sanctuaries
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The state Wildlife Board cleared several proposals for reference to the National Board for Wildlife on Wednesday. Among them plans to build the Narmada canal through parts of the Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch so water can be supplied to Kutch district, is a hot political issue.
Interestingly, concerns about the Wild Asses Sanctuary have been stalling Indo-Pakistan border fencing work recently. The board meeting was chaired by Chief Secretary A K Joti.
Among other proposals cleared by the board are plans for mining operations and chemical factories within 10 kms of the borders of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Junagadh district, proposals to start limestone mines in more than 700 hectares about 5 kms from the borders of the Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kutch, as well as the expansion of an existing thermal power station near the Marine National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary off Jamnagar.
Another proposal for industrial activity within the 10 km periphery of Balaram-Ambaji Sanctuary in Banaskantha was also cleared, sources said, as were proposals by the Gujarat Electricity Transmission Company (GETCO) to bury underground high-tension wires that run through the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary from the Kutch mainland to Khadir island, located in the middle of the Great Rann.
Hundreds of migratory flamingos were electrocuted by these wires this past winter even as the state prepared for a massive international birdwatcher's conference. The large birds from Siberia remain one of the major tourist attractions each winter.
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