Hyderabad: The Forest and Wildlife Protection Society (FAWPS) and Hyderabad-based environment activists have filed an online petition 'Save Amrabad Tiger Reserve'. The petition was filed on January 28, 2020, and has already received 145 signatures in the past 48 hours.
The petition requests the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the National Board for Wildlife, and the Telangana State Board for Wildlife, which is headed by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, to recall the proposal to strengthen and widen NH-565 which passes through the reserve and declare it void. The proposal that was submitted by the Roads and Buildings Department in 2015 violates the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) which states that the core area of a reserve forest cannot be disturbed, it said.
The online petition reads, "Amrabad is India's largest tiger reserve which is facing a threat of deforestation and human interference due to land diversions for various developmental projects. The Roads and Buildings Department of Telangana had put a proposal for widening and up-gradation of Nakrekal- Nagarjun Sagar section of NH-565 which passes through the core area of Amrabad Tiger Reserve on March 16, 2015. The State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) and the state chief wildlife warden had recommended the proposal on December 6, 2016, without imposing conditions."
FAWPS members alleged that the proposal also violates provisions of Project Tiger by overlooking the decision of the NTCA, the apex body looking into the issues of tiger reserves, to maintain status quo for NH-565. "Whereas the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) stated that the project involving widening and up-gradation of Nakrekal-Nagarjunsagar section NH-565 passes through the core area of the Amrabad Tiger Reserve, it is recommended that the status quo should be maintained for Nakrekal-Nagarjunsagar section of NH-65 passing through the Amrabad Tiger Reserve... The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) on December 17, 2019, had approved the proposal recommending the state government to grant permission if the user agency modifies the road design with a flyover in the Core area of the tiger reserve," the petition further reads. FAWPS believes that a road or flyover that passes the core area will cause fragmentation and degradation of habitat and disturb wildlife which will lead to a bleak future for tigers in the country.
The activists have demanded that the standing committee of both the National Board for Wildlife and the State Board for Wildlife reject any proposals that cause disturbance and human interference at the tiger reserve. Mr Mirza Kareem Baig, founder/director of FAWPS, told Newsmeter, "No such activity should be done in the core area of a Tiger Reserve, and Amrabad is one of the biggest tiger reserves. Even a small developmental activity will leave a huge impact on the ecosystem in the long run. This will lead to a step-by-step degradation of the forest. The proposed elevated road is planned in the thickest pocket of the forest which is also home to many wild animals."
He said, "The actual proposal was to strengthen and widen the existing road but later it was recommended by the NBWL that a half-kilometer elevated road (flyover) be included in the proposal. We wonder how the Telangana State Board for Wildlife and the National Board for Wildlife cleared the proposal".
The Amrabad Tiger Reserve lies in the beautiful forests of Nallamala hills with a rich bio-diversity of more than 600 plant species, 300 avian varieties, 60 species of reptiles, and more than 70 species of mammals, including the sloth bear, Indian fox, jackal, nilgai, sambar, and critically endangered species like tiger, leopard, and dhole.