Monday, April 27, 2009

Forest Dept plans tiger safari park in Malabar Sanctuary

Forest Dept plans tiger safari park in Malabar Sanctuary

First Published : 26 Apr 2009 12:34:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 26 Apr 2009 08:42:39 AM IST

KOCHI: A major ploy for setting up a Nature Conservation Park and a Tiger Safari Park within a reserve forest is taking shape in the inner circles of the Forest Department.

The safari park, which is to be built inside the proposed Malabar Sanctuary in the Kozhikode Forest Division by flouting norms, has the support of Forest Minister Benoy Viswom.

Tiger safari is one of the 16 projects under an umbrella project - Nature Conservation Park.

The Rs 24-crore project is to come up in 115 hectares of land inside the proposed Malabar Sanctuary at Peruvannamuzhi range in Kozhikode division.

The state government has already submitted a proposal in this regard before the Zoo Authority of India.

Sources said there smelled a controversy behind mooting such a project at a time when notification for Malabar Sanctuary is in the final stage. Setting up a park inside the reserve forest is violation of the Forest Conservation Act.

Creating an entertainment park will automatically disturb the serene atmosphere of the reserve forest area and affects its natural bio-diversity, sources said. “The activities in the project are not a forestry activity.

Therefore, it’s a violation of the Forest Conservation Act. The attempt by the Forest Minister and some officials is to cut a piece of land on the border of the sanctuary and make a park there. Therefore, they can say the project is not within the sanctuary.

It’s against the rules,” sources said.

As expected, forest officials came up with an explanation that the nature conservation project lies on the border of the sanctuary only. “A proposal has been submitted to the Zoo Authority, for setting up a project with 16 initiatives.

The Tiger safari park, rehabilitation of wild animals and Otter park are the three animal-related activities in the project,’’ said K P Ouseph, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife).

He said the project was on the edge of the Malabar Sanctuary and therefore it will not affect the biodiversity in the area.

The reason for choosing that particular area could be the absence of a nature conservation park in Northern Kerala, he said.

Sources said that there were plans for setting up a tiger breeding area for captive breeding inside the proposed Nature Conservation Park. “In these days, when there are many modern concepts of animal conservation, promoting captive breeding is unethical.

Therefore, it should not be allowed without discussions with the Tiger Conservation Authority of India,” wildlife enthusiasts pointed out.

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