Forest dept steps in to save tigers; Government withdraws permission granted to a private company to generate wind energy in a forest area
The Karnataka forest department has foiled a private company’s bid to convert part of a shola forest in the Western Ghats into a wind energy hotspot since the project would have occupied a tiger corridor.
A Bangalore-based hydropower company had, in June 2009, got the government’s approval to use the area to generate 25MW of power. Following the government order, the forest department too had granted permission to the company to undertake testing work at the Moorkangudda reserve forests, which hosts one of the most thick shola forests in the state besides a wildlife corridor.
However, a public interest litigation (PIL), filed by Western Ghats Environment Forum (WGEF), challenged the government’s order on the ground that it would cause irreparable damage to the sensitive ecosystem. Taking note of the PIL, the forest department cancelled the permission it had earlier given to the company to extend its testing period. With this, the energy department, which was hell-bent on starting the project, had to withdraw the permission.
Moorkangudda is a critical link between Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh National Park, and is host to endangered species including tiger, leopard, wild dog, gaur, sambar and several others protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The area has grasslands and shola forests, and matches Bababudangiri area in its natural beauty.
“This is a positive step taken by the forest department to save this excellent tiger habitat. Though this area might have a low density of large carnivores, it acts as a critical corridor between southern and northern Western Ghats,” wildlife biologist Sanjay Gubbi told DNA.
“In the interest of long-term tiger conservation in the state, it is critically important to connect all protected areas through existing corridors or else once these corridors are lost, the concept of source-sink model for tiger conservation will be obsolete,” he added.
Last year, the forest department had proposed that a few reserved forests in this area be added to Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary owing to their high ecological value. “It is now clear why some unknown vested interests were opposing adding these areas to the Pushpagiri sanctuary,” said Sunil Gaikwad of Wildlife Matters Trust of Bangalore.
Gubbi said the most important aspect of this episode was the saving of the tiger corridor. The cats use the canopy cover to remain undetected during migration. He said Karnataka has the highest tiger density in the country, but to retain this pride, the state will have to take proactive steps in stopping diversion of important forest areas.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding