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Chief Minister Chairs 22nd Meeting of State Board for Wildlife in Gandhinagar

    CM’s Suggestion to Conduct Environmental Impact Assessment of Major Projects in the Sanctuary Areas

    A decision was made to submit the proposal for laying a new broad gauge railway line on Taranga Hill-Ambaji-Abu Road in the eco-sensitive zone area of Balaram-Ambaji Sanctuary to the National Board for Wild Life, along with the State Board’s recommendations

    Proposals, including widening existing unpaved roads, drains, bridges, underground pipelines, and a 66 KV sub-station, were approved for Gir Sanctuary and various other sanctuaries across the state

    Gandhinagar, 24 August 2023: Chief Minister Shri Bhupendra Patel suggested that the Forest Department should perform an environmental impact assessment for significant projects, both ongoing and upcoming, within the state’s sanctuary areas. He emphasized that projects like railway lines, underground pipelines, and Optical Fiber networks in forest sanctuary zones require a thorough examination of their environmental impact.

    These suggestions were given by the Chief Minister while presiding over the 22nd meeting of the State Board for Wild Life, held in Gandhinagar on Thursday. He also suggested conducting a survey of wildlife areas that lack grass, and trees, and feature open lands.

    During this 22nd board meeting, proposals were approved in accordance with Section 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. These proposals involved widening or repairing existing unpaved Roads, drains, bridges-culverts, 66 KV sub-stations, power lines, and laying underground pipelines for IOC across various sanctuaries including Gir, Jambughoda, Purna, Jessore, Narayan Sarovar, and Kutch Sanctuary.

    During this meeting, several new proposals for eco-sensitive zones were also presented in the presence of the Forest Minister Shri Mulubhai Bera, and the Minister of State Shri Mukesh Patel.

    One of the proposals involved laying a new broad gauge rail line on Taranga Hill-Ambaji-Abu Road within the Eco-Sensitive Zone of Balaram-Ambaji Sanctuary, which was presented with the recommendation of wildlife authorities.

    Following the Government of India’s guidelines, such proposals need to be forwarded to the National Board for Wildlife after obtaining recommendations from the State Board for Wildlife. The meeting disclosed that the Forest Department would now forward this proposal to the National Board.

    Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Shri Nityananda Srivastava provided comprehensive information about the implementation of the amended Wildlife Protection Act 1972 in the state starting from April 01, 2023, through a presentation during this meeting.

    It was also conveyed during the meeting that, in accordance with Section 25-A of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act 2013, the District Collector has been vested with the authority to enforce the right to fair compensation and transparency.

    Furthermore, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Central Government, the Chief Wildlife Warden, under Article 33, is entrusted with the authority to oversee and safeguard the sanctuary. This oversight includes the implementation of the management plan approved by them. These provisions were elaborated upon during the meeting.

    It was informed in the meeting that 38.23 hectares land of Prempara, acquired for using forest land in Maghardi minor irrigation scheme of Junagadh district, has been declared as Prempara Sanctuary this year under the Wildlife Protection Act-1972.

    An estimate of the wild animal population in the state is typically acquired every five years by the forest department as a component of wildlife conservation and breeding efforts. In this context, the meeting included a presentation of details regarding the population growth of animals such as dolphins, bears, vultures, wolves, jackals, chital, and nilgai based on the last census.

    Chief Secretary Shri Raj Kumar, while engaging in the meeting discussions of the State Board for Wildlife, highlighted the necessity to conduct studies and assessments within the sanctuary areas by embracing the concept of development in harmony with conservation.

    During this meeting, MLA, and Board Member Shri Mahesh Kaswala, Additional Chief Secretary Shri Pankaj Joshi, DGP Shri Vikas Sahay, Principal Secretary of the Forests & Environment Department Shri Sanjeev Kumar, Head of the Forest Force Shri Chaturvedi, Secretaries of various departments, Shri Dhanraj Nathwani, along with other Honorary Board Members and senior forest officials were present.

    Source: Information Department, Gujarat