Activists file objections over Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Wildlife Corridor being excluded from Ecologically Sensitive Areas
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Tenders reissued for mining in green corridor in Maha
Clara Lewis | TNN | Dec 14, 2015, 11.12 PM IST
MUMBAI: The Directorate of Geology and Mining (DGM) has invited tenders for mining iron ore in the eco-sensitive Digve-Banda village of Sawantwadi taluka in the coastal district of Sindhudurg.
While Digve is part of the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg wi-ldlife corridor, Banda, along with Digve, is on the list of 192 villages in Sindhdurg district that have been identified as eco-sensitive areas by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) following the report of the K Kasturirangan high-level working group. The filing of objections and suggestions before issuance of the final notification on eco-sensitive villages is under way.
TOI had in 2010 exposed how 49 mining leases had been issued in this wildlife corridor, the home of the tiger. Thereafter, then environment minister Jairam Ramesh had stayed mining leases, including the Digve-Banda one.
Sandeep Sawant, a resident of Asni village, along with D Stalin, director of the NGO Vanashakti, and Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation, had filed a public interest litigation before the Bombay high court, which had stayed the cutting of trees in the wildlife corridor.
The corridor from Amboli to Mangeli village is spread over 35km, Sawant said, with 98 villages. "While Sawantwadi taluka has been included in the eco-sensitive zone, the more eco-sensitive and closer to the Anshi-Dandeli wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka, the Dodamarg taluka has been excluded from the eco- sensitive zone by the Kasturirangan committee,'' he said.
Sawant said the mining lobby backed off following the intervention of the Union environment ministry and high court, but in the last three years resurfaced in the area.
"The gram sabhas of 26 villages in the wildlife corridor passed a resolution in 2010, demanding that their villages be declared as eco-sensitive. Now only three villages in Sawantwadi and two in Dodamarg have passed the resolution. Six in Sawantwadi have sought a partial eco-sensitive zone tag. It only shows that easy money is flowing through the villages, which is very unfortunate," said Sawant.
Stalin said the government should have desisted from reissuing the tender as there is an HC stay and the villages are in the eco-sensitive list.
R S Kalamkar, director, DGM, said clarifications will be issued at the pre-bid meeting on December 21.
Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Wildlife Corridor
has been protected by an Order of the Court in Awaaz Foundation's public interest litigation.