By Apoorva Chawla:
Not a very long time ago, the most popular campaign all over India was- ‘Save Our Tigers’ initiated by Aircel and the World Wildlife Fund. It claimed that just 1411 tigers were left in India and urged the Government to take severe actions against poachers and improve and increase securities around tiger reserves all over India.
But apparently, the enthusiasm and concern was very short-lived. Yet again, the king of the Indian Forests is in danger. Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Mr. Ashok Gehlot has sanctioned 17 new mining leases around Sariska Tiger Reserve against Supreme Court’s order and against the recommendations of Union Forest and Environment Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh.
Sariska – where in the last tiger census not even a single living tiger was found, had recently welcomed five tigers which were shifted here from Ranthambore and more are expected to be transferred soon. Each tiger needs around 8-10 kms for its territory. And some of the State government’s mining leases are barely 20 kms away from the reserve. While the farthest is just 60 kms away!
The Supreme Court had restrained mining in the Aravallis till further orders. But the Rajasthan Government changed the definition of the Aravallis Ranges to suit themselves and decided that by Aravallis the Supreme Court meant hills or mountains above 100 metres height, thus gave mining leases in areas below the height of 100 metres. The state has also been taking advantage of the rule 24A of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 which states that “The renewal or renewals of mining lease granted in respect of a mineral not in part ‘A’ and part ‘B’ of the first schedule to the act may be granted by the State government.’
Although, the Supreme Court has directed Forest Survey of India to carry out satellite imagery of the entire Aravalli range in Rajasthan, almost all lease-holders are enjoying uninterrupted and unchecked mining operations which are completely in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
According to the Environment experts, the mining could disturb the ecology of the area which is very dangerous for the survival of the tigers in Sariska.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, very recently went to the Ranthambore National Park for his first visit. Isn’t it ironical that he would show interest towards the big cats of Ranthambore right when he is trying to sabotage the very slight chance of survival that they have in Sariska?
Image courtesy: http://www.india-tourist-places.com/2009/03/