Panel asks Centre to reconsider Girnar Ropeway’s green approval

| | New Delhi

With locals citing a threat to the endangered long-billed vultures due to the proposed Girnar Ropeway in Gujarat’s Junagadh, a Parliamentary panel has asked the Central Government to reconsider the green approval to the project given last year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the project to develop the ropeway for Mount Girnar in Junagadh in 2007 when he was the Chief Minister of the State.

The panel, led by Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Chowdhury, said that it agrees “with the apprehension expressed (by the locals) that making ‘Girnar Ropeway’ for the visiting tourists is likely to affect the vulture nesting/breeding”.

“The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Central Government should review the matter and take a decision in the matter only after it has examined the report of the expert panel threadbare,” it maintained.

The panel presented the report in Parliament recently.

The Girnar Ropeway project, which was cleared by an expert committee of the Central Government last year for the visiting tourists, was proposed by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL) way back in 1983.

However, during the visit of the panel members at the site, the local people had expressed concern that due to this ropeway, vultures’ nesting/breeding would get affected.

The project proposal estimated diversion of 9.1 hectare forest land for the project, which was later reduced to  7.29 hectare forest land for the project in 1994. However, the project was stalled after those hauling pilgrims up to the top of Mount Girnar in palanquins moved the Gujarat High Court, claiming the ropeway would affect their livelihood. Objections were also raised by green activists and the work was stopped in 1999.

The panel has also asked the Union Environment Ministry to not to reduce the guidelines of ecosensitive zone from existing 10 kms to 500 meters as proposed by the State Government saying that it will surely destroy the Lion habitat. The panel also took exception to the garbage generated and thrown by the dhabas/hotels located on the fringes of the Gir forests.

It has also sought immediate removal of the illegal construction or encroachment in and around the national park.



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