The Times of India: Ahmedabad: Tuesday, January 12, 2016.
The State Board for Wildlife has approved a 23-km Narmada Canal branch from Suvai to Chobari in Kutch district, and also given its go ahead for a 289.32-km long 765 KV high tension line between Bhuj and Deesa. A 10-km stretch of the high-tension power line, to be installed by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, will pass through the sanctuary areas in Kutch and Dasada.
The wildlife board, in sanctioning the two projects, seems to have ignored warnings issued by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) about building canals around sanctuary areas, and also cold shouldered recommendations made by forest officials to install underground or insulated high-tension lines to save lives of migratory birds.
When asked about the actions of the wildlife board, forest and environment minister of Gujarat, Mangub hai Patel, refused any comment beyond saying, “It is the duty of forest officials to ensure safety of the wildlife.“
A senior forest officer said that after the December 2011 inci dent in Kadir in which 400-odd birds had died of electrocution on high tension wires, the then principal secretary, forest and environment, S K Nanda had decided that high-tension power transmission lines through sanctuaries wo uld be underground or would have insulated wires.
“Realizing that birds come to the Wild Ass Sanctuary and LRK in large numbers, the department wanted to take precaution and had recommended underground cables,“ said the officer.
While permitting construction of a 23-km long canal through the Wild Ass Sanctuary and Kutch Sanctuary , the SBWL igno red the 2015 re port of ICUN, which had ex pressed con cerns over construction of canals around the protected area within the sanctu ary. The report sta tes that the wild ass are facing incre asing threats from human ac tivities. “Land use patterns have changed since the mega Narmada Dam Project, which resulted in Sardar Sarovar canals all around the protected area,“ observes the report.