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To: Shri Prakash Javadekar
Do not axe 350,000 trees in Palamau Tiger Reserve
The MoEF should not allow the North Koel project at the cost of 350,000 trees.
Why is this important?
Jharkhand’s water resource department has planned to axe close to 3.5 lakh trees in Jharkhand’s Palamau Tiger Reserve in Madhya for the North Koel project, also known as Mandal dam.
Palamau, notified a year after former PM Indira Gandhi announced Project Tiger in 1973, is one of the oldest among such reserves in India. The Tiger Reserve is replete with biodiversity and an important carbon sink, which will be lost to the dam.
We live in a climate stressed world, and need to ensure we take all measures to safeguard these forests, which sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Even though there have been conflicting reports about tigers being seen in the areas earmarked for clearing, the benefits of the fragile ecosystems go way beyond their boundaries. And we cannot afford to lose them.
The water resource department has already received the permission for felling of trees in 2017. Further, it claims to have deposited Rs 461 crore to the forest department for the purpose. However, given that the proposed reservoir falls under the purview of the Forest Department, it requires a formal No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the state forest department.
Wildlife conservationist Prerna Bindra in her statement to Mongabay said that “diversion of land from tiger reserves is a betrayal to the sacrifice of forest staff for reviving tiger population and of the communities who have been voluntarily relocated from those areas as well.” It seems like within weeks of India collecting virtual accolades for its increased tiger population, is making way for projects such as this to fragment the habitat of this flagship species. Moreover, India (and the world) cannot afford to lose this green cover and biodiversity, which acts as an insurance against climate change.
We as citizens of India urge you to ensure this project does not see the light of day.