Green pigeon stays as state bird
PUNE: The Forest Owlet, a critically endangered species, will not be the state bird. Instead, the green pigeon will continue to hold the pride of place.
A proposal tabled by the Bombay Natural History Society to give the honour to the Forest Owlet was unanimously rejected by the State Wildlife Board on Tuesday.
The meeting, chaired by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, resolved that there was no need for the change, but agreed to initiate steps to conserve the Forest Owlet.
Several NGOs felt the bird would be better protected if it was given the status.
Chavan said he would soon forward the state government's proposal to declare five new sanctuaries to the union government. These are Rajmachi in Thane-Alibaug, Sudhagarh-Tamni in the Western Ghats, Tipagarh in Gadchiroli, Kopela-Kolamarka in Gadchiroli and Isapur bird sanctuary in Yavatmal.
The meeting cleared the proposal to recruit forest guards, provide vehicles to range forest officers and granted them permission to use ammunition after sunset.
The State Board for Wildlife, Maharashtra government comprises prominent conservation NGOs like Satpuda Foundation, Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra of Chiplun and the BNHS.
"The decision to recruit more forest guards and provide vehicles to forest range officers is welcome. The chief minister also talked about purchasing 100 vehicles for the forest range officers," Nishant Kale, member of Satpuda Foundation, told TOI.
It was also decided to allow forest guards and forest officers to fully focus on wild life conservation and forest safety and not manage eco-tourism.
Kale said that the proposal for a nature interpretation centre, a leopard rescue centre and laying of electric lines in Ahmednagar district inside the bustard sanctuary will be taken up after the denotification process. The area is proposed to be reduced from about 8, 500 square km to around 1,222 square km.
The proposal to laying a transmission line through Sanjay Gandhi National Park was rejected and the members said renewable energy sources should be explored. The proposal to lay a 400 KV transmission line in Matheran was not decided upon.
"This is an eco-sensitive zone and it is not under any sanctuary. The Wildlife Board of India will take a decision," he said.
A proposal from a private company seeking forest land near Phansad wildlife sanctuary was also rejected.
The meeting granted permission for repairing the electric lines passing through the Tungareshwar wildlife sanctuary. The proposal will now go to the Central Wildlife Board and has to get an approval from the Central Empowered Committee. All development projects in the 10 km radius of wildlife sanctuaries have to get a nod from this committee constituted by the Supreme Court, said Kale.
Bhau Katdare, founder of Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra of Chiplun, said the board will meet twice in a year. Tuesday's meeting was held after 28 months.
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