Times of India: Ahmedabad: Monday, February 29, 2016.
Soon, the wild ass in Gujarat may learn to swim more and run less, as sanctuary land available for free run of the animal gets cut up by a network of canals. The National Board for Wildlife on Friday cleared a proposal for seven distribution canals through Wild Ass Sanctuary and 11 such canals through the Kutch Sanctuary . Forest officials said that while open canals would pass through the sanctuaries when they pass through fields of farmers, they would be cove red.
Earlier, two branch canals had been sanctioned by the board. Last year, a 23-km long Narmada canal from Suvai to Chobari in Kutch district was approved, said forest officials, and in 2008, the board had sanctioned a 40-km long canal through the wild ass sanctuary in Little Rann.
Not only the canals, but the board has also cleared the 10km long high tension line passing through the wild ass sanctuary . Sources in the forest department said that the proposal cleared on Friday includes diverting 124 hectares in Wild Ass and Kutch Sanctuary for canal construction. It includes construction of Kutch branch canal, Gagodar, Dhangadhara.Wanndhiya sub-branch canals, Fangli Minor, Santalpuir, Garamadi and Piprala, Maiya branch canal and its distribution network passing though the wild ass sanctuary.
It was on December 21 that the State Wildlife Board had created double trouble for the wild ass with high-tension line in the sky , and confining canals on ground.
The State Board for Wildlife had cleared diversion of 124 hectares of land in Kutch district for canal networking, and also given its go ahead for a 289.32-km long 765 kV high tension line. Of the 289.32 km, around 10 km of the overhead high-tension line passes through the sanctuary .
Sources said that the National Board for Wildlife cleared he proposal without any significant modification over that proposed by the state board.The national board also ignored any necessity for insulated wires in the high tension line through the sanctuary , which s near the route of migratory birds. Officials said that the 2015 report of International Union for Conservation of Nature for the Wild Ass had raised concerns over the spread of canals all around the protected area within the sanctuary .
The report states that wild asses are facing increasing hreat from human activities.“Land use patterns have changed since the Mega Narmada Dam Project, which resulted in the Sardar Sarovar canals all around the protected area,“ states the report.