Ramesh gives conditional clearance for ropeway project in Gir

New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) Rejecting objections from greenactivists, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today grantedconditional clearance for a ropeway project in Gujarat''sGirnar wildlife sanctuary, famous for its lions.

Six conditions were set by the Environment ministry forthe Girnar ropeway project hanging fire since September 1995and pending with it for over a year.

The ropeway that will connect Bhavnath Taleti and Ambajitemples in Junagadh district has faced opposition fromenvironmentalists who apprehended adverse impact on thehabitat of endangered vultures.

The project would "minimise man-animal conflict" in thesanctuary and would also provide a "convenient way oftransporting" thousands of pilgrims daily to the holy spots onMount Girnar, Ramesh said while giving in-principle nod to theproject.

"It would also put an end to socially unacceptablemodes of transportation (the dolis) that are being usedpresently," Ramesh, who visited the site on January 27, saidbut added that the clearance was subject to six specificconditions.

Dismissing concerns of environmentalists, Ramesh said,"I have seen for myself the strong reasons to build theropeway.

"The Girnari Giddh (vulture) population that is goingto be affected by the ropeway project is between 20 and 25percent of the total population of long-billed vultures inGujarat but less than 10 per cent of the population ofvultures in the state," the Minister said.

The six conditions include minimum disturbance forlong-billed vulture i e Girnari Giddh habitat, cafeteria forvultures, increase in height of two towers along the ropewayand cess on ticket turn-over revenue for conservation relatedactivities.

The Ministry also asked the Gujarat Government tosubmit a report within two months about its study to consideralternate alignment of the ropeway project, preferably alongthe Datter /Bhesan side with a view to ensure that it does notcut across the prime vulture habitat and minimises disturbanceto the nesting, roosting and ranging sites of long-billedvultures and other wildlife species.

According to the conditions, a camera of highresolution will be placed on the ninth tower to monitormovement of vultures, a ''cafeteria'' for vultures will beconstructed at an appropriate location and a technicalmonitoring group will be set up to advice on safety protocolsand to monitor the implementation of the conditions.

Centre''s approval for the ropeway project wasnecessitated after the declaration of the Girnar ReserveForest as the Grinar Wildlife Sanctuary in May 2008.

The Sanctuary covering an area of about 180 sq km ishome to 20-25 lions.

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