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| Last Updated:: 16/10/2017

Tiger’s roar can bring water to three states













Panaji: Carving out a 755-sq km tiger reserve in Goa's territory along a 100-km border with Karnataka could be a boon not only for the state but the water security of the region, covering all three states, including Maharashtra, experts say. 




"Declaration of this tiger reserve (Mhadei, Molem, Netravali and Cotigao protected areas) will also ensure protection to catchment areas of important rivers such as Mhadei (Goa), Malaprabha (Karnataka) and Tillari (Maharashtra), and will help in ensuring continuous water availability for the three states," AJT Johnsingh, former dean of Wildlife Institute of India, stated in a report to Goa government. 




The four wildlife sanctuaries, being contiguous to Bhimgad protected area and Kali tiger reserve in Karnataka and Radhanagri wild life sanctuary in Maharashtra form a broad green corridor for wildlife in all three states. Conservationists and environmentalists consider it as a unique and strategic region of around 8,000-sq km near the borders of three states. For over two decades, they have been demanding for it a status as a Sahyadri ecologically sensitive area (SESA), being a biodiversity hotspot in the world. 




"The tiger being at the top of wildlife chain, its presence in Goa signifies that the eco-system is in good shape not only in terms of biodiversity, but also water supply. It depends on animals that also need water. If the tiger disappears, it will be dangerous for the rich biodiversity," environmentalist Claude Alvares said. 




But, the ecologically fragile region has been witnessing massive destruction in recent years. Large swathes of forest land have been cleared for plantations by private parties, timber mafia, and also building of canals and dams by Karnataka and Maharashtra. While Karnataka assured the Supreme Court that it will not continue work on the Rs 364-crore Kalsa diversion project, Maharashtra government has sanctioned an allocation of Rs 146 crore for construction of Virdi irrigation canal in Dodamarg taluka. 




Activists suggest that the central government should adopt a more stringent view of the large-scale felling in forest areas, especially the Western Ghats. "Both Karnataka and Maharashtra have carried out felling for a diversion and a dam project. The Centre should initiate penal action against erring states to avert the approaching disaster due to deforestation," said Nirmala Sawant, president of Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan. 




The pressures of development and opposition from mining lobbies have prompted successive governments to be in denial mode about the tiger's presence. 




R Raghunath and Johnsingh, now with Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, in their study on status of the tiger and its prey species at Goa government's behest, have urged better co-ordination among the three states to protect the biodiversity rich zone. 




"A tiger reserve and protection of ecological strength is vital to ensure copious rainfall, protect ground water and ensure flow of streams. Without water, there is no life," Johnsingh said.










Source: The Times of India