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Egyptian Vultures: Victims of Myths And Misconception

In one of the most shocking cases of wildlife trade, seven endangered Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus), have been recovered from a man traveling from Kanpur to Manmad in Maharashtra. Wrapped in colourful cloth, the vultures were hidden inside a basket in Pushpak Express when the railway police rounded up the man with the threatened birds. The arrest is likely to unearth a wildlife crime syndicate. This blog will keep you updated on the issue . The scavenger birds are listed as endangered in the IUCN red list  threatened species because of its “rapidly declining"  population world over”. Myths Linked With Vultures Special task force (SIT) of Madhya Pradesh forest department is quizzing Fareed Sheikh (60) who was found in possession of 7 birds from a train at Khandwa railway station. He turned out to be only a   carrier-  like those  in drug trafficking. Fareed said that  Sameer Khan, a resident of  Kanpur, handed him over the vultures and  he was  asked to transfer the co

Future Tense: Turbulent Time Ahead for Panna Tigers

Unaware of the fact that countdown to destruction of Panna tiger reserve has begun after signing of Ken Betwa Link Project (KBLP) , yet another tigress has given birth to two cubs, filmed and photographed by tourists on April 9.  The cubs were seen walking in the emerald forests with their mother code named T-151. In the past 4 months, about 15 new cubs were spotted in Panna national park. What would be the fate  of these cubs in the light  of the KBLP , hash tagged as dam of doom by the  wildlife lovers across the country ,is uncertain. In all ,there are about 65 to 70 tigers in Panna including the cubs.

Final Approval of Green Clearances Still Awaited
By the time the cubs  grow up , the process of the execution of the project would have begun and it would be the time to face the rising water in their habitat . Though the  government has not yet announced a date when it wants to launch the project, it said the project would be kicked off soon. In fact, the final approval of various green clearances is awaited and hence the delay. “The KBLP does not have the final forest clearance, and its wildlife clearance has been opposed by the Supreme Court -empowered Central Empowered Committee (CEC) , says Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) .  Besides,  its environment clearance  was challenged before the National Green Tribunal and the case is still pending. “Should the Prime Minister be endorsing a project ( he was present while the MP UP CMs signed an MOA  in an online event on March 22) that does not have all the statutory clearances, when a legal challenge to its available clearances is pending before various judicial bodies?”, Thakkar asked.

Also read: Ken-Betwa Project:Dam of Doom for Panna Tiger Reserve

There is another interesting aspect about the , as environmentalists  say, " disaster in the making project". The CEC  in a report of August 30, 2019, had raised fundamental questions not only on the appropriateness of the wildlife clearance given to the project, but also the viability, optimality and desirability of the project. It is estimated that the KBLP will lead to a loss of “10,500 hectares of wildlife habitat” in the Panna Tiger Reserve. The National Water Development Agency (NWDA)are yet to provide a detailed response to the report and the court is yet to hear the matter.

KBLP: Bundle of Contradictions

That the project is full of contradictions is gauged from the fact that the minutes of the Forest Advisory Committee meeting held on March 30, 2017  says, “ the project is economically unviable” . The minutes notes: “The construction of the dam on site within Panna Tiger Reserve is not the best possible option… the total project cost has not included the cost of ecosystem services lost due to the diversion of forest… If the cost of ecosystem services lost is considered then the benefit/cost ratio will be very less, making the project economically unviable.”

Also read: Cry to Save Panna from Ken Betwa Project Gets Louder

The Stage I forest clearance from May 27, 2017 is based also on a number of conditions that will require fundamental restructuring of the current project, including change in project costs, benefits and impacts and hence will require a fresh appraisal. Such conditions include the stipulation that the proposed 78 MW powerhouse shall not be constructed in the forest area. Meanwhile, people in Panna and various other parts of the country, people have joined hands in protest against the project.  They include the 'maharani' of the ex -royales of Panna  to the aam aadmi of the region.

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