Thursday, September 16, 2010

Protected Area Update - New Issue - October 2010

Dear Friends,
Below is the list of contents of new issue of the Protected Area Update (Vol. XVI, No. 5), October 2010 (No. 87). Please do forward this to other elists where you think this will be relevant. The entire issue can also be downloaded from the Kalpavriksh website at
If you want to receive the Update in the Word format write to me at the email below
We are, in fact, very happy to announce that all back issues of the PA Update are now available in their pdf forms from

I would also likely to again point out that the PA Update continues to need funds and support. Any contribution, big or small, is welcome and if you would like more details on how you can help or if you any ideas, please do write to me at

Many thanks
Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editor, Protected Area Update
C/o Kalpavriksh

News and Information from protected areas in India and South Asia
Vol. XVI No. 5
October 2010 (No. 87)


Many reasons to oppose a PA

Demands for removal of speed breakers inside Nagarjunsagar Srisailam TR
Culling of wild boars to be allowed in state

Tiger density goes up in Pakke TR

River islands of Assam are new corridors for wildlife
FD officials to be allowed use of firearms
Poachers killed, apprehended in two different incidents in Orang NP
Elephant killed in road accident on NH-37 in Kaziranga NP
Investigation demanded into forest official involvement in Kaziranga NP rhino poaching
Road widening threat to wildlife in Sonitpur Elephant Reserve and buffer of Nameri Tiger Reserve
Women take up frontline jobs of protection in PAs, other forest areas

Details of wildlife cases filed by Amit Jethva
Tourism department requests for more permits in Gir; FD refuses
Committee to recommend critical wildlife habitats met only once in three years

An estimated 1000 pangolins hunted in two months in Bellary region

Special measures proposed for newly declared Malabar WLS
Five Biodiversity Heritage Sites for state

MoEF asks MP to scrap the proposed Patrolling the Tiger Land plan

Students renew demand for plastic ban in Bhimashankar WLS
NHAI proposes eight underpasses on NH-6 through forests between Navegaon-Nagzira and the Tadoba-Andhari TR
State cautioned against curtailing area of proposed Mansinghdeo WLS

Wildlife awards instituted for conservation in the Garo Hills

Call for more protected areas in Orissa
Three member MoEF team to look into elephant deaths in Simlipal TR

Buoys to mark boundary of the Gulf of Mannar National Park

Threat to wildlife in Rajaji NP from traffic and industries
Gomukh to Uttarkashi stretch of River Bhagirathi to be declared eco-sensitive
Uttarakhand government against expansion of Askot WLS

Deer die during transportation from Bibhuti Bhushan WLS to the Sunderbans
Elephant attacks train in Mahananda WLS

Cheetah re-introduction proposed in Kuno-Palpur WLS, Nauradehi WLS and Shahgarh region in Jaisalmer district
2nd bench set up to hear Godavarman (Forest) Case in the SC
National Environmental Sciences Fellows Programme
No move to split the Indian Forest Service
Newsletter of the Nilgiri Natural History Society

Tiger population increases in Chitwan NP
Meeting of Indo-Nepal border forest officials to discuss conservation issues

Horton Plains slender loris, a primate considered extinct, but now photographed

Call for applications for the Whitley Award

International Workshop on amphibians in the Western Ghats


Tourism in and around PAs - A Paradigm shift needed



There have been many reasons and arguments against the creation of new protected areas (PAs) or the expansion of existing ones. The general impression is that governments and forest departments are always keen on expanding the PA network and communities or those who speak on their behalf are the ones opposing these moves.
The picture on the ground is actually more complex and this issue of the PA Update has two interesting examples – one from Uttarakhand and another from Maharashtra. In both these cases it is the state machinery that is against the expansion (or creation) of protected areas for reasons that have nothing to do with interests of wildlife or of the local communities. An interesting parallel was seen more than a decade ago when the Himachal Pradesh Government denotified about 10 sq km of the Great Himalayan National Park on the pretext that local communities were being negatively impacted by the national park. The real reason was that the Parbati Hydel Project had been held up and the only way to get it through was to have the river valley excluded from the PA.
Now, in Uttarakhand the state government is opposing the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommendation for expansion of the Askot Wildlife Sanctuary on the grounds that this will restrict their capacity to tap the high hydro-electric potential of the area. Already there are 14 such projects proposed within the existing sanctuary area (PA Update Vol. XVI, No. 2) and many others in the entire region. Local communities here have also been opposing the protected area, but then, they (at least some of them here) have also vehemently opposed the spree of dam building that the region is likely to see. The cancellation of the Loharinag Pala Hydel Project and the decision to declare the Gomukh – Uttarakashi stretch of the River Bhagirathi as an eco-sensitive zone is perhaps one outcome of this.
In Maharashtra, similarly, the long pending notification of the Mansinghdeo Wildlife Sanctuary is being held up because part of the land belongs to the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra. The Corporation which has logged these forests for timber has in the past opposed handing over the land for inclusion in the sanctuary and the decade old proposal continues to languish. In 2004 (PA Update 50) it had even moved an application before the High Court, arguing that it would lose nearly Rs. 1400 crores if the ban on timber logging was implemented in the 10 km radius of PAs as had been suggested.
This is a situation we have seen happening repeatedly with only minor variations in the script. In the present scheme of protected areas and wildlife conservation, local communities are clearly the most dispensable entities. And in the present dominant paradigm of ‘development’ and primacy to commercial interests it is protected areas, wildlife and local people that are all together in being at the bottom of the list of priorities, if they find a place in that list at all.
There are different sets of people opposing wildlife conservation and protected areas for different reasons. It is important to realize that it is generally one set that manages to have its way.


Protected Area Update
Vol. XVI, No. 5, October 2010 (No. 87)

Editor: Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editorial Assistance: Reshma Jathar
Illustrations: Madhuvanti Anantharajan

Produced by
The Documentation and Outreach Centre, Kalpavriksh

Ideas, comments, news and information may please be sent to the editorial address:

Apartment 5, Shri Dutta Krupa, 908 Deccan Gymkhana, Pune 411004, Maharashtra, India.
Tel/Fax: 020 - 25654239.

Publication of the PA Update has been supported by
- Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
- Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust
- Greenpeace India
- Association for India's Development
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
- Indian Bird Conservation Network
Information has been sourced from different newspapers and the following websites

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Activists Use Legal Weapons to Stop Thermal Power Plants

Activists Use Legal Weapons to Stop Thermal Power Plants
By Pankaj Sekhsaria

HYDERABAD, India, Aug 27, 2010 (IPS) - Green activists have various ways of pushing their causes, from enlisting movie stars to launching protests, but India’s campaigners have also been quietly using legal weapons to try to get the projects they oppose, such as thermal plants, stopped or reversed.

This trend bears watching in the light of two cases where decisions affecting such projects, many of which are on the drawing board in different parts of India, have been made in courtrooms.

In July, the death of two protesters led to the cancellation of the environmental clearance of a thermal power plant project in southern Andhra Pradesh state, a decision that green activists took as victory.

But just a day before the Jul. 14 violence at the Nagarjuna Construction Company Power Projects Ltd project site at Sompeta, the Andhra Pradesh High Court dismissed a petition to stop a similar power plant project in the same district – Srikakulam.

This project by East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd is at Bhavanapadu in the wetlands area of Naupada village.

Lawyer Ritwick Dutta, representing the Paryavaran Parirakshana Sangham and other appellants says that Naupada is recognised by the Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International as a key habitat of the endangered Spot-billed Pelican, which breeds only in peninsular India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

Dutta had argued the case against the 12,000-crore (2.5 billion U.S. dollar) Nagarjuna project before the quasi-judicial National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA), which eventually cancelled the environmental clearance for the 2,640-megawatt plant.

In fact, the firing by police in Sompeta occurred at about the same time that the case was being argued before the appellate authority in New Delhi.

The results in the Nagarjuna and East Coast cases are different, but highlight how courtrooms are increasingly being asked to decide the fate of these projects – many already with environment clearances – in lawsuits by non-government groups protesting schemes that they say would displace communities and harm sensitive environments.

But Sanjay Upadhyay, a New Delhi-based Supreme Court lawyer, says that the trend of plaintiffs approaching the courts in environmental matters cannot be a long-term solution to deciding policy.

Instead, he says in an interview, internal mechanisms and administrative systems inside the government must be strengthened, so that conflicting issues are resolved before clearances are issued in the first place. "Internal arrangements are very weak and systems can’t be run by courtrooms", Upadhyay pointed out.

According to the 2009 report by the environmental group Kalpavriksh entitled ‘Calling the Bluff: Revealing the state of Monitoring and Compliance of Environmental Clearance Conditions’, the Ministry of Environment and Forests clears 80 to 100 projects every month with a range of environment and social conditions.

Thermal power accounts for more than 70 percent of India’s electricity supply. Its annual per capita electricity consumption has increased from 566.7 kilowatt-hours in 2002-03 to 704 kwh in 2007-08.

Among India’s southern states, Andhra Pradesh has the highest installed capacity in coal-based utilities, which generate nearly 6,700 mw.

State officials explain that thermal power plant projects represent a total investment of up to 85,000 crore rupees (18 billion dollars) in Srikakulam alone, aside from providing 10,000 mw of power altogether.

But former government bureaucrat E A S Sarma, now convenor of the Forum for a Better Visakha, argues that none of these projects should be allowed in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh.

"These are coming up under the policy of the state government to promote merchant power plants, where land is being given cheap to the developers at the cost of the coastal environment and livelihoods of the local people," he said.

A report by the environment ministry notes that the area where the Nagarjuna project was to proceed has significant biodiversity, including medicinal plants and at least 120 bird species. T Rama Rao, vice president of the Sompeta-based Paryavaran Parirakshan Sangham (Environment Protection Committee) that is leading the opposition to the project along with Teera Pranta Matsyaka Aikya Vedika (Coastal Fisherfolk Unity Platform), says nearly 250,000 people from 24 fishing and 40 farming villages would have been affected by it.

At least six thermal plants are planned in Andhra Pradesh. Some, like the 2,630-mw project at Bhavanapadu by East Coast Energy – the subject of the July decision upholding the environment clearance thus far – and the 2,640-mw plant of Alpha Infra Prop Pvt Ltd at Komarada in neighbouring Vizianagaram district already have environment clearances.

The fatal shooting of two protesters in July seems to have inspired other communities to stand up for themselves.

Sarma observed, "It is now clear to people that the government itself is violating the law. They have realised their strength and opposition to projects here has gained strength in the last few days."

"The larger issue is that we have created systems that are guzzlers of energy," he added. "We can’t hope to keep adding megawatts like we have been doing so far. The demand for electricity has been artificially created and we have to work on steps like reducing transmission losses, using more efficient end-use devices, and make our systems more efficient."

Meantime, Nagarjuna’s corporate communications head, P L Murari, said the company "would do anything to address the genuine concerns of the local people regarding setting up of the power plant."

But the NEAA’s order cancelling the Sompeta project clearly states: "The Ministry should undertake survey of all wetlands in Srikakulam district for their ecological sensitiveness as soon as possible and pending this, no project should be cleared in such locations." (END)

Vanquished Voices (of the Andaman Islands)

Vanquished voices

With the passing away of Boa Senior of the Bo tribe, one more language has gone silent in the Andaman Islands. Will the administration wake up to the indigenous cultures that are dying out there, asks PANKAJ SEKhSARIA

About 150 years ago 10 groups constituted the Great Andamanese community...

Last of the Bos: Boa Sr.
(Photo: Anvita Abbi)

Boa Senior of the Bo indigenous community in the Andaman Islands died on January 26, 2010 at the ripe old age of 85. The inevitable had to happen and yet every such passing leaves behind sadness and regret. In that sense Boa Sr. was like everyone else and at the same time unique in a hugely tragic sense.

With her death one more ancient language of these islands has gone silent forever. Boa Sr. was the last speaker of the Bo language and all that we have now are some recordings that may have been left behind. The fate of language neatly reflects the fate of the people themselves and the story of the Great Andamanese that Boa Sr. belonged to is no exception. About 150 years ago 10 groups (the Bo included) constituted the Great Andamanese community of the Andamans. The population that was nearly 5000 then is down to only about 50 today. It is also a little known fact that only four of the 10 original languages have survived and with Boa Sr. now gone, that number is further down by one.

Lack of sensitivity

There is a whole treasure house within these communities, their way of life and their languages that is on the verge of going silent. Boa Sr.'s is the inevitable silence of the dead, but it is another silence that is deafening for its lack of awareness and sensitivity. Her death was widely reported and accounts appeared in the press all over the world. What was striking however is that the official government machinery had no role at all to play in it. The news of Boa Sr.'s death was first reported by Dr Abbi and her team of linguists who have been working with the community for many years now. It was posted by them on the ‘andamanicobar' e-discussion group and then circulated further via a press release issued by Survival International, the London based tribal rights advocacy group.

The huge paraphernalia of the A&N Administration that includes the Tribal Welfare Department and the Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) did not as much as even issue a note announcing the death, leave alone expressing their condolences. There was no mention on the website of the A&N administration or in ‘The Daily Telegrams' the daily newspaper published by the administration from Port Blair. Neither did any political party or other prominent group in the islands acknowledge the passing away of another community and another language.

One might argue that even if this were to happen it could have done nothing for Boa Sr or the Bo language. While that might be true, the larger concern is about what this apathy reflects for others in the future. These agencies are responsible for the welfare of some of the most vulnerable and threatened human communities like the Jarawa, Onge and Sentinelese that inhabit these islands. If they remain unacknowledged even in their death, what hope can there be for those that are just about hanging on to their survival? These are voices that are not just going silent; in more ways than one they are being vanquished.

Popular :Port Blair and Ross Island
(Photo: Pankaj Sekhsaria)

Even a change in history is sought – one of the most prominent demands in this light being the recent call by the All India Forward Block in the islands to rename the Andaman and Nicobar groups as Shaheed and Swaraj respectively, as suggested by Subhas Chandra Bose. It is not a new demand and has been made repeatedly since the 1950s by a range of historians and those with political interests. The enthusiasm to re-configure and reclaim this history, however, is striking in its ignorance of the larger context of these islands.

It is a question that renaming enthusiasts need to consider very carefully: How does one reclaim what was never yours in the first place? There are undeniable connections of India's freedom movement with the islands; best symbolized by the mutiny of 1857 and the Cellular Jail. There can be no denying that and neither can one deny the close bonds that a large section of the country feels with these islands, but that history does not go beyond a 150 years.

It has to be remembered that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been the traditional home of a number of aboriginal communities – the Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Onge and Sentinelese (in the Andamans), the Nicobaris and the Shompen (in the Nicobars) that have been living here for nearly 50,000 years. The 150 years that we want to claim now is like the blink of an eye in comparison. Injustices have been done and continue to be done to these communities in a manner that has few parallels in India. Their lands have been taken, their forests converted to plywood and agricultural plantations, and the fabric of their societies so violently torn apart that extinction looms on the horizon for many of them. The Great Andamanese who were at least 5000 individuals when the 1857 mutiny happened are today are only about 50 people. Two months ago the last member of the Bo community died and the administration did not even acknowledge her passing away. The Onge who were counted at about 600 individuals in 1901 census are only a 100 people today.

Worthy of study

These are people, like indigenous peoples everywhere, who have their own histories and their own names for the islands and places First the British gave them a name and now we want to call them something else . If indeed the places have to be renamed, should not an effort first be made to find out what the original people had first named them and which names are still in use by them? Should that not be the work of scholarship and historical studies? It would be a far more challenging and worthwhile exercise and perhaps not a very difficult one either because a lot of information does already exist.

If indeed the real and complete history of the islands is ever written, the British would not be more than a page and India could only be a paragraph. How's that for a perspective and a context?