Sand Mining Threaten Tigers In The Valmiki Tiger Reserve
December 2009: Within one km. of the Valmiki Tiger Reserve a massive sand-mining operation is underway and thanks to political support, the perpetrators are able to get away with the removal of even rocks and boulders from the inside of the reserve. A Hindustan Times report filed by Reena Sopam on November 11, 2009 from Patna states:"Only recently 19 sand-laden tractors and stones were seized by the police.
It indicates that sand and stone mining are going on. Though the license has been issued for sand mining outside the protected area, stones are also being quarried in a secretive manner," a senior Project Tiger official said.
Several appeals to the District Administration asking for penal action to be taken have fallen on deaf ears. Even decisions taken by the District Environmental Protection Committee seems to be having no effect. The disingenuous official response was that: "License for sand mining has been issued in the areas outside the protected forests. Though no such activity is allowed within one kilometre area of tiger sanctuary, we cannot stop it because legally, the area is not a safe zone.
The tiger sanctuary is yet to be declared a Tiger Reserve under Section 38 of the revised Wildlife (Protection) Act, 2006 as the buffer areas have not been demarcated.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has asked the state government to in August 2008. The disconnect between centre and state governments is a source of major problems for many tiger reserves and it is time that officials were taken to task for threatening tigers in this manner.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority officially states about the Valmiki Tiger Reserve that: “It is contiguous with the international boundary and is infested with hundreds of armed dacoits. They are involved in felling and smuggling of Khair Acacia katechu, and cane. The role of police in Bihar has been dubious and cases of complicity of some police staff have been brought to the notice of higher officials including the Home Secretary of Bihar. We need a dedicated police force at the disposal of the Field Director to meet the challenge.
Sanctuary readers are therefore requested to write to Jairam Ramesh asking him that:
1. Sand mining and boulder collection be stopped in Valmiki
2. That immediate steps are taken to demarcate and declare the core critical and buffer areas of the tiger reserve.
3. That a dedicated wildlife protection force, reporting directly to the Field Director be set up for effective protection.
Shri Jairam Ramesh
Minister of State for Environment and Forests,
Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110 003.
GOOD NEWS: Based on an official assessment conducted by Rajesh Gopal, Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has refused permission for construction of the destructive INO project at Singara in the buffer area of the Mudumulai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. See Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXIX No. 1 February 2009 for more details on the project and why their decision is favourable to wildlife and the country.