The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) has requested the Uttarakhand government to consider avoiding sensitive areas of the Shivalik Elephant Reserve while looking out for land apt for the expansion of the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun.
MoEF’s forest conservation division has observed this in retort to a proposal by the Uttarakhand government for the diversion of 87 hectares of forest land for airport expansion in the Dehradun district.
In a letter to the Uttarakhand Forest Department, the Assistant Inspector General of Forests Sandeep Sharma informed that the area proposed for diversion is a ‘High Conservation Value’ area and will cause destruction of riverside forests located in between the present runway and the river. “Out of the 87.0185 hectares proposed area to be diverted, the 47-hectare area falls under moderately dense forest. Therefore, the State Govt may explore alternatives for the proposal such as acquiring area lying north of the existing runway,” read the letter.
“The entire proposed forest area for diversion falls within the Shivalik Elephant Reserve and elephant corridors within its 1 km radius. Moreover, the notified Kansora-Barkot Elephant Corridor is located within a 5 km radius. The state government should consider avoiding these sensitive areas and explore alternative lands,” said in the letter.
Sandeep also pointed out that the proposed land is located within a 10-km radius of Rajaji National Park/Tiger Reserve. “Therefore, the status of the Wildlife Clearance/comments of Chief Wildlife Warden and NTCA may be furnished,” the letter states.