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Will Narmada project endager blackbucks?
Chandran Iyer in Gandhinagar | June 29, 2007 10:10 IST
Will the ambitious Sardar Sarovar Project of the Gujarat government have any adverse impact on the blackbucks in the Velavadar national park?
Since the proposed canal network passes through the eco development zone surrounding the park in Bhavnagar district, it could bring significant changes in the environment of the sanctuary housing the endangered herbivore, forest officials say.
This national park, which has the largest concentration of blackbucks in the world, is a unique grassland that is home to more than 2000 of the endangered species and a large number of blue bulls besides other wild animals including Indian wolf and a large variety of birds.
One of the fears that has been expressed is that the canal network, which passes through the periphery of the park, could obstruct the free movement of the blackbucks.
A senior forest official, who was involved in the study of the possible environmental effect of the Sardar Sarovar Project on the Velavdar national park admitted the project could have some environmental impact but the negative impact can be counterbalanced by some precautions and care.
"Since the national park is surrounded by the canal network, it could obstruct the movement of the blackbucks" said Uday Vora, Deputy conservator of Forest.
The Sardar Sarovar Project is one of the largest multipurpose river valley projects of the world, which is being implemented by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd.
The Gujarat Ecological Education and Research Foundation was involved in conducting environmental impact assessment of the project a few years back in which Vora was also involved.
Vora said, "There are two aspects of the SSP -- the positive as well as negative. But the positive aspect far outweighs the negative impact."
The positive impact of the SSP includes availability of the canal water for the wildlife in the area and helping to improve the habitat and diversity.
The negative impact is that canal structure could act as a barrier for free movement of blackbucks. Increasing agricultural activity due to the canal could also result in poaching by the people to protect the crop, he added. Besides increased human activity in the area could cause disturbance to the animal life.
He said "As the canal is likely to obstruct the movement of the blackbucks, it is suggested that at two points corridors of at least 50 metre width should be provided which will provide passage for the animals.
"This can be done either by providing siphons or by covering the canal from the top with gentle slopes on either side of the canal or by putting pipeline of appropriate diameter," he added.