By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, Feb 5 : Decks have been cleared to allow the mining of a special sandstone, much sought after by builders, including those constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya, from Bharatpur’s Bandh Baretha sanctuary.
However, officials, environmentalists and public representatives of the area are shocked at the lightning pace with which the decision has been taken.
Last Friday, a standing committee of the Rajasthan Wildlife Board cleared a proposal to allow the mining of a special sandstone. The proposal to denotify Bharatpur’s Bandh Baretha wildlife sanctuary for pink sandstone mining will now be put up before the Rajasthan Wildlife Board headed by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, said Chief Wildlife Warden Mohan Meena.
After the matter is taken up by the state wildlife board for consideration, it will be sent for the approval by the National Wildlife Board.
The standing committee of the Rajasthan wildlife board, it needs to be mentioned here, is headed by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Last Friday, it was decided to shift Bharatpur’s Bandh Baretha wildlife sanctuary “southwestward” to exclude three forest blocks which have been “damaged irreparably” by rampant mining.
This loss of 7 sq km will be compensated with the addition of 198 sq km of territorial forest to the sanctuary.
This boundary reorganisation shall allow smooth mining of the pink Bansi Paharpur sandstone which has been named after the area. This unique stone is in high demand for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Although thousands of tonnes of the pink sandstone mined in Bharatpur’s Bansi Paharpur have been sourced for the temple for the last many years, much more is needed, said officials.
Senior IAS officer Neeraj K Pawan, former Bharatpur district collector, told IANS, “This is a very quick development. Such decisions take years. However, if it has been done, it should be praised for its speed.
“Yes mining was rampant in this sanctuary and there have been many serious fights too. So this will resolve such infighting issues too within villages, besides serving the need of builders,” he added.
Meanwhile, renowned environmentalist Harsh Vardhan told IANS, “It is too obvious that the state government has sided with the needs of a particular variety of stone as needed by a temple which is under construction. Obviously, instead of serving ecological needs, either commercial or religious bias has played an overriding reason.”
Harsh Vardhan further said: “Welcome to note that 198 sq km of territorial forest additional land has been provided as compensation which is fair enough. The decision makers of Rajasthan are now requested to take up some conservation methods at Baretha which will enhance ecological worth of state a priority.”
The Bandh Baretha dam was commissioned by the former rulers of Bharatpur to create an eco-system to save Bharatpur from recurring floods. There has been a proposal to seek ‘flowing water’ from Baretha to meet the recurring needs of Keoladeo National Park which survives on flowing water. During the annual monsoon season, it kickstarts its aquatic ecology.
Vardhan says that Band Baratha sanctuary supplies drinking water to Bharatpur and hence water retention is of great significance here. “Instead of tapping its water for use in this park, the state government has paid heed to a demand for several years, outstanding, for stones,” he added.
Vishvendra Singh, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Deeg-Kumher Constituency in Bharatpur, meanwhile, expressed ignorance of any such issue and said he will study the developments before commenting on them.
Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.