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MoEF for declaring Mhadei as tiger reserve

Panaji: Union Ministry of Environment and Forest`s letter asking Government of Goa to prepare a proposal to declare Mhadei wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve will have far reaching consequences on the Iron ore mining industry there, a noted environmentalist said.

Rajendra Kerkar, who has been campaigning to notify Mhadei as a tiger reserve said, "Around 36 mines, which are active around Mhadei will be hit directly while several others will be affected once the tiger reserve is notified".

"The mining activity in the areas like Pissurlem and Honda in Sattari talukas will be shut down as it will fall in the buffer zone," Kerkar said, adding currently there is no buffer zone for state`s wildlife sanctuaries.

Union minister for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh yesterday wrote a letter to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat asking him to submit a proposal to notify Mhadei wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve.

The green activists in the state have been lobbying for several years to declare this bio-diverse hotspot in the Western Ghats as a reserve for big cats.

Goa is the largest exporter of iron ore in the country with around 45 million metric tonnes of ore being extracted annually.

The environmentalists had been protesting against mining activities going on within the reserve forest area and wildlife sanctuaries. Mhadei Wildlife sanctuary, spread across 208 sq km, was notified in the year 1999 and is surrounded by thickly-forested Bhimgad, Bondla, Mahaveer, Anshi-Dandeli and Sawantwadi.

Goa chief wildlife warden Dr Shashi Kumar said, "It will not be difficult to prepare a proposal for the tiger reserve. But it has to be done in consultation with the locals."

In case there is human habitation in the sanctuary, the state will need to take decision on their rehabilitation, he added.

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