‘Ban use of combine harvester in Pong wetland’ : The Tribune India

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‘Ban use of combine harvester in Pong wetland’

Non-forestry activities banned in wildlife sanctuaries, say environmentalists

‘Ban use of combine harvester in Pong wetland’

A wheat field in the Pong wetland area near Samkehar in Jawali. Tribune photo



Rajiv Mahajan

Nurpur, April 20

Environmentalists have appealed to the wildlife authorities of the state Forest Department to ban the use of combine harvester for harvesting wheat crop in the Pong wetland area.

Kulwant Thakur, Milkhi Ram Sharma, Ujagar Singh and Lekh Raj today raised objections to the expected use of combine harvesters in the wildlife sanctuary area.

They alleged that while some influential people had sown wheat crop at the onset of winter in Nagrota Surian and Dhameta wildlife range despite objections, the authorities concerned had maintained silence over this illegal activity.

“Now, they have brought combine harvesters for harvesting the crop, which is another illegal activity. The Supreme Court had in its February 14, 2000, order imposed a ban on all non-forestry activities in wildlife sanctuaries across the country. However, some habitual offenders have ploughed the land owned by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), surrounding the Pong dam wetland, and sown rabi crops,” they lamented.

The Centre had in 1999 notified the Pong dam wetland area, spread over around 300 sq km, as a wildlife sanctuary under the Indian Wildlife Act, 1972. Over one lakh migratory birds visit the wetland every winter. It is alleged that farmers, who illegally cultivate this fertile land, used to poison migratory birds to save their crops.

The environmentalists have been raising the issue of the illegal cultivation with the Wildlife Department after the Supreme Court’s order imposed a ban.

Environmentalist Milkhi Ram Sharma had filed a civil writ petition (CWC) in the Himachal Pradesh High Court, seeking directions to the state government to stop the cultivation in the wetland area.

He lamented that the wildlife wing of the Forest Department, which is the custodian of the Pong wetland area, had failed to check the illegal activity.

#Nurpur


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