Posted On Thursday, July 05, 2012 at 08:16:00 AM
The move to put up a 20-km long fence along the Kas plateau near Satara a day ahead of the UNESCO’s recognition of the entire stretch of Western Ghats as world heritage site has caught the state forest department on the wrong foot.
It seems the department was in such a hurry that neither did it wait for the UNESCO’s announcement nor allowed the committee, appointed by it, to submit a feasibility report.
|The 20-km long fence was put up a day ahead of UNESCO’s announcement
Now, the department has realised its “mistake” after a public outcry and has decided to reconsider its decision.
Environmentalists and villagers are opposing the move as it will restrict the movement of natives as well as wildlife. The locals say that it is an encroachment and will not serve the purpose. During monsoon, especially in August, the plateau comes to life, with a picturesque view of various types of flowers embracing the plateau.
However, the forest department contends that it had fenced the plateau, famously known as the valley of flowers, to protect rare and endangered species of plants from cattle and wild animals.
Dharmaraj Ghorpade, chairman of the Satara Panchayat Samiti said, “Why did the forest department suddenly put up fencing now while it did not take any action for so many years. The fencing will create difficulties for wildlife, which is a part of the plateau’s richness.”
Amit Kadam, member, Satara Zilla Parishad, has also joined Ghorpade in opposing the forest department.
On June 12 when the department had convened a meeting to discuss the fencing issue, P N Munde, Chief Range Forest Officer of Kolhapur, too had disapproved the department’s proposal.
Later, Munde admitted that it was a mistake and the fence will be withdrawn in phases.
A week later, Pravinsinh Pardeshi, State secretary, forest and environment department, had visited the plateau and had announced that a committee would be appointed to find a solution.
Well-known author Dr Sandeep Shrotri, who has penned books on Kas plateau, was appointed a member of this committee.
Shrotri, who works with Satara-based NGO Ranwata, said, “The fencing will affect the eco-system in many ways. While external soil or metal is harmful for the plateau’s ecology, they have used concrete and iron to build the fencing.
The oil paints on the pillars will seep in the water and pose danger to migratory species of fish. Also people come here to see nature’s beauty but the fence will obstruct their view.”
Shrotri added, “Now no development work can be carried out here as per the International Union for Conservations of Nature (IUCN) guidelines.” Meanwhile, the wildlife warden of Pune along with several organisations, researchers and ecologists have decided to organise a public consultation on the issue on July 7 in Pune.