Skip to main content

Bugged by pollution, cementing, human activity, Modi govt may denotify Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary in Varanasi

Indian tent turtle, captured in TWS
By Our Representative
If a wildlife sanctuary is unable to preserve a particular species because of certain extraneous reasons, why not do away with it right away? This appears to be the new motto behind the BJP rulers in Uttar Pradesh, frantically wanting to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious inland waterway project on Ganga. The waterway is slated to pass through Varanasi, Modi’s constituency.
A proposal is reportedly pending clearance with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to shut the 220 hectares (ha) Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS), situated in seven-km stretch of the Ganges between Rajghat (Malviya Bridge) to Ramnagar Fort in Varanasi district.
The proposal, according to a report in the news portal “The Wire”, comes close on the heels of a Wildlife Institute of India, study, “Assessment of Wildlife Values of the Ganga River from Bijnor to Ballia, Including Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh: Technical Report”, which states, “Out of 13 species of turtle reported from Ganga River, only 5 species were encountered during the field sampling…”
Assi Nala (drain) inside TWS
 Raising the alarm that there was a “very low encounter rate of turtles in TWS”, the study said, “high human disturbance leading to habitat alterations within a very small Protected Area.” It added, while “sites along the TWS in the left bank are seen to have the least suitable habitat for turtles” there is “high anthropogenic disturbances such as cemented ghats, intense ferry and boat activity, pollution, and human presence along the river.”
Pointing out that “the sand bar in the right bank of the TWS, though is an excellent habitat for turtles and breeding birds, is also under severe anthropogenic pressure”, the study stated, the sanctuary even today is “providing a refuge to the biodiversity of this riverscape, especially to the scavenging turtle species”, which are a great “help to reduce the organic load of the river in the form of unburnt/partially burnt bodies.”
The study, which is based on “a rapid ecological assessment for freshwater turtles and associated aquatic species … conducted from April to May 2018”, further said, “During the study period, despite robust sampling in the summer season using a variety of survey methods, capture rates for turtle species was low, indicating a low abundance of turtles in the TWS… attributed to poor aquatic habitat quality and high anthropogenic disturbances within the TWS.”

Construction of jetty near Ramnagar
Following the study, the state government reportedly promptly submitted a proposal to the Government of India asking for the sanctuary to be ‘denotified’ following a meeting of the State Board of Wildlife of Uttar Pradesh on August 30, 2018. Quoting exclusive documents in its possession, the report notes, the reason stated by the DFO, Kashi wildlife division, to the National Board for Wildlife is that “the sanctuary is not fulfilling its purpose”, hence it should be “denotified”.
Another letter is by chief conservator of forests SK Awasthi, dated September 5, 2018, sending an “authorization letter to Manoj Khare, DFO, Kashi wildlife division, “to submit a proposal regarding denotification of TWS in view of the decision taken in the eighth meeting of the state board of wildlife, UP, on August 30, 2018 after due consideration and diligence exercised in the matter.”
Comments environment journalist Bahar Dutt, who has authored the report, “If the Centre approves the proposal to denotify TWS, this will be the first protected area to be completely wiped off the map of India since the introduction of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.”

Comments

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative  Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.

Protests break out as school going children 'branded Naxalites, taken prisoners'

By Sheshu Babu* Conditions in all spheres of life is going from bad to worse. On September 13, Political Prisoners' Day was observed. On that day, Jatin Das, friend of Bhagat Singh and member of the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association, passed away after 63 days of hunger strike. He demanded 'political prisoners' status to those who have been jailed by the state.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

No space for 2 lakh waste pickers in Delhi masterplan for next two decades: Study

By Our Representative  A new survey report prepared by the NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on the challenges faced by waste pickers in managing solid waste in Delhi, “Space for Waste - 2021”, has regretted that currently, there is no provision of workspace for waste workers, hence they carry out their work of segregation, repairing, and composting at different locations.