The Uttarakhand High Court on March 18 directed the chief wildlife warden to present a detailed report on steps the wildlife board has taken to preserve Shivalik Elephant Reserve. The stay on the expansion of the airport continues.
The court asked why the airport couldn't be expanded in a manner that doesn't harm the elephant reserve.
We're one step close to saving Thano.
The Chief Minister's Office,
1. Reinstate the 2002 notification of the Shivalik Elephant Reserve
2. Move the expansion plans of Dehradun’s airport terminal away from the lush Thano forest
Why is this important?
47 years after the historical Chipko movement, Uttarakhand’s residents have joined hands to save the flora and fauna of the state, endangered by an infrastructure project!
The Uttarakhand government had sought approval from the National Wildlife Board for the expansion of Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun to make way for a new terminal building, a larger parking lot for planes, a longer airstrip, and multi-level car parking.
By-passing the National Wildlife Board’s concerns regarding the wildlife at stake, the State Wildlife Board, denotified the Shivalik Elephant Reserve.
Moreover, AAI is seeking clearance to procure 243 acres of forest land which would mean cutting off nearly 10,000 trees in the ecologically rich Thano Forest.
Let’s understand why saving the Thano matters:
Thano is considered as a one of a kind forest because of its exceptional biodiversity. Due to a mix of experimental and natural forestry over a period of 150 years, the Thano range is known for its lushness. It’s also a reason why forest department trainees are trained here.
Situated at around 15 km from Dehradun city, this forest has
- Tigers, leopards, wild boars, pangolins, mongoose, hyenas, snakes and other large mammals.
- Over 207 species of birds. Moreover, it’s the breeding ground for the Great Slaty Woodpecker, categorised as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN and rarely found in India. This bird’s global population has crashed by 90% in the last 100 years
- Elephant corridors located within just a 3km radius of the proposed area. (3.17% elephants are killed here every year due man-animal conflict)
Despite such rich biodiversity, the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Report for the airport expansion states, “No scheduled I fauna has been reported in the study area probably due to absence of any dense forest.”
Besides, there have been several illegalities in the process that has been followed for this project:
- Violation of RTI ACT 2005- none of the minutes of the Uttarakhand Wildlife Board is in the public domain
- Clear violation of EIA Notification, 2006, The de-notification is to facilitate the expansion of Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun which requires 87.08ha of forest land from the Shivalik Elephant Reserve, yet the Government while applying for Forest Clearance submitted that no EIA is required for expansion of Airport.
- The area also forms part of Corbett Tiger Reserve yet National Tiger Conservation Authority's permission is not sought.
A total of 9,745 trees (including species like Khair (3405), Sheesham(2135), Sagon(185), and Gulmohar (120) along with 25 other species of trees are among those that are proposed to be cut. Not only will it cause irreparable damage to the adjoining Shivalik range, it will also lead to shrinking of the area for the movement of elephants and other wildlife.
Apart from this, the picturesque town, Dehradun, is crumbling under rapid urbanization at the cost of ecologically sensitive areas. Thano acts as a carbon sink for the state's capital, which is already facing a spike in air pollution and temperature.
The State also falls in seismic Zone IV and V, as per the Earthquake Zoning Map, and uprooting Thano will lead to soil erosion, a factor that led to the 2013 Kedarnath floods, endangering countless lives.
Uttarakhand, the land of myths, magic and majestic beauty of the striking Himalayan ranges, needs us. Let’s ensure we don’t fail!
Let’s ensure the Devbhoomi doesn't wake up to another forest fire, another landslide or just another Kedarnath flash flood. Let’s ensure we stand by the flora, fauna and the people of Uttarakhand.
Sign the petition and urge the Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister to take action and stop the procurement of the Thano Forest.
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Thanks for all that you do,
The Jhatkaa.org team.