Ahmedabad: After a gap of 15 months, the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) will soon meet to discuss key matters pertaining to the impact of cyclone Tauktae and upcoming projects. The board members, who last met on September 28 last year, will come together on December 16. This will be their first meeting to be held under the chairmanship of Bhupendra Patel who recently took over as the chief minister. The board members will focus on wildlife management and conservation action necessitated by Cyclone Tauktae. Proposals in the eco-sensitive zone will also be discussed, according to details released by Shyamal Tikadar, chief wildlife warden, Gujarat, and member secretary of the board. “A large number of trees in Gir sanctuary were uprooted by Tauktae,” said a member of the board. “A roadmap needs to be worked out to clear lakhs of fallen trees that pose a problem for wildlife, including Asiatic lions.” The member said the exercise is expected to be much bigger than what followed the 1982 cyclone in the Asiatic lion landscape. During that calamity, an estimated 28.1 lakh trees had been uprooted. The forest department is currently carrying out a survey to ascertain the estimated number of trees felled by Tauktae. The board will also deliberate on the proposal of a resort near the Gir sanctuary. In the September 2020 meeting, the board members had rejected the proposal for Wildwood Resort and Realities Pvt Ltd on the grounds that it fell within the 1km radius of the sanctuary where no commercial activity is permitted. The promoters of the resort approached Gujarat high court and stated that the resort was outside the eco-sensitive zone limits. The promoters also contended that the board had miscalculated the distance between the resort and the sanctuary. In an order dated November 26, the court directed the board to take up the issue in its December meeting. “Discuss the same after hearing all the parties concerned. Take appropriate decision and guide the state government accordingly,” the court had said.
After a gap of more than 14 months, the state board for wildlife (SBWL), the apex advisory body of the state in matters related to wildlife, is all set to meet again on December 16 and discuss a proposal seeking wildlife clearance for Wildwoods Resort, a hospitality project being developed on the border of Gir sanctuary in Amreli district.Office of Shyamal Tikadar, the principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), who is also ex-officio member secretary of SBWL Wednesday notified members about the board’s 20th meeting scheduled for December 16 and also circulated the agenda among them.This will be for the first time since September 29, 2020 that the SBWL will be meeting. As per rules, the SBWL is required to meet at least twice a year. But no meeting has taken place in the last 14 months. The 20th meeting was originally to be convened on September 15 but it had to be postponed indefinitely after Chief Minister Vijay Rupani resigned.Incumbent Chief Minister of Gujarat is the ex-officio chairman of SBWL.Besides other matters on the agenda, the board will discuss a proposal of Wildwoods Resorts and Realties Private Limited (WRRPL), seeking wildlife clearance for a resort it is being developed at Patala and Gadhiya villages on the edge of Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (GNPWLS) in Dhari taluka of Amreli district.WRRPL, an Ahmedabad-based real estate firm, is developing the resort on a 165-hectare land in the twin villages after signing a memorandum of understanding with the state government in 2009 during a Vibrant Gujarat Investor’s Summit. However, the project is mired in legal tangles as the project site, as per the state forest department, falls within the radius of one kilometre from the border of the sanctuary hence not eligible for a wildlife clearance.However, the project proponent claims the site is more than one km away from the sanctuary. The matter is pending before the Gujarat High Court and while hearing the matter on October 29 this year, the court had directed SWBL to hear WRRPL. On November 26, the High Court again directed SBWL to hear the realty group and “to take up this issue, discuss the same after giving an opportunity of hearing to all the parties concerned, take an appropriate decision and accordingly guide the state government.” The court will hear the matter again on January 21 next year.The meeting will also take up minutes of the 19th meeting for confirmation. It was at this 19th meeting when a proposal by the Indian Railways seeking wildlife clearance to convert the metre-gauge railway line passing through the core of GNPWLS into a broad-gauge line was discussed.Members who are serving on the board in their capacity as subject experts had opposed the proposal opining it will be detrimental to the safety of Gir lions whose only natural home in the world is the forest. The minutes of the meeting, however, recorded the proposal as having been approved, attracting vociferous objections by some members who claim the 19th meeting of SBWL had decided to keep the proposal pending.
A cyclone is brewing in the Bay of Bengal and it is likely to cross the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha coast around December 4. The storm, once developed, will be called Jawad (read as Jowad), as named by Saudi Arabia. Though frequent low-pressure systems developed during the recent weeks, it is for the first time in 31 years that October and November months passed without any cyclogenesis over the North Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea). Climatologically, during the post-monsoon months, the maximum number of cyclones develop in this region in November. According to cyclone development frequency data maintained by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), on eight occasions between between 1891 and 2021, no cyclones developed in this region during both October and November. These years were – 2021, 1990, 1961, 1954, 1953, 1914, 1900 and 1895. For 41 years, October reported no cyclones and November remained without cyclones on 32 occasions during the past 132 years. On Tuesday, the IMD said that a low-pressure system had developed off Thailand coast and it will enter the Andaman Sea by early Wednesday.This low-pressure area will strengthen, and by December 2, become a depression and prevail over east-central Bay of Bengal. “The system is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm and cross north Andhra Pradesh-Odisha coast during morning hours of December 4,” read IMD’s special weather bulletin issued on Tuesday.In view of this developing cyclone, the Met department has warned of heavy to very heavy rainfall over Andaman and Nicobar islands, coastal Andhra Pradesh and Odisha till December 4. An ‘yellow’ alert ahead of heavy rainfall (64.4mm to 115.5mm in 24-hours) has been issued for Srikakulam, Vishakapatnam and Vijayanagara districts of Andhra Pradesh for December 3 and 4. The Met department has issued an ‘orange’ alert with likelihood of very heavy rainfall (115.6mm to 204.4mm in 24-hours) on December 3 and 4 over Puri, Gajapati, Ganjam, Khurda, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Cuttack and Nayagarh districts of Odisha. Meanwhile, a low-pressure system will develop in the east-central Arabian Sea by Wednesday. The passing western disturbance as a trough will interact with this low pressure, lead to moisture incursion and cause intense rainfall over Gujarat and north Madhya Maharashtra over the next two days. Due to favourable sea conditions prevailing since September-end, at least five low-pressure systems, of which two intensified into depressions, affected the southern peninsular. As a result, the all-India rainfall for October and November ended with 48 per cent excess. This was mainly contributed by surplus rain over Kerala (115 per cent), Tamil Nadu (106 per cent), Karnataka (103 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (47 per cent) in the last two months.