Sorry Tigers, Govt Prioritises River-Linking Over Conservation
A recently approved river-linking project could be bad news for tigers.
The Quint DAILY
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The struggle to reintroduce tigers to Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh was not an easy one. In 2009 the park had no big cats left, but by 2016 the number was back up to 30.
It was a conservation success story – a story that could now be threatened by a government-approved project.
Around 100 square kilometres, or 20 percent of Panna National Park, will be submerged by a scheme that will link the Ken and Betwa rivers. The scheme was cleared by the new environment minister Anil Madhav Dave and the National Board for Wildlife.
Also Read: Uma Bharti’s River Diversion Plan Could Be a Terrible Idea
River-linking has been proposed as a method to address drought across the country, which affects millions of people every year. Government officials like Uma Barthi, the water resources minister, want to invest tens of crores in tying rivers together and diverting water to the drier parts of the country.
But environmentalists are concerned about the consequences of tampering with the natural environment to this degree. Changing the flow of the rivers would have a major impact on surrounding wildlife and the repercussions haven’t been fully studied, experts from the South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) say.
In the case of the Panna National Park, it will be eating into crucial tiger territory. Tigers are solitary creatures that need a lot of space to roam around and hunt. Their habitat has already been cut down by human development across the country, pushing them into tiger reserves.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority requested that the government compensate for the territory lost through the river-linking project.
(With inputs from Business Standard and Times of India)
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