Mumbai: The National Board of Wildlife has approved scientific drilling inside Maharashtra’s Sahyadri Tiger Reserve to probe reservoir triggered seismicity owing to the nearby Koyna dam. The proposal, which was cleared at the board’s meeting held in May, with its minutes uploaded only recently, has been recommended by Sunil Limaye, the chief wildlife warden, State Board for Wild Life, and the state government.
Limaye said that the user agency has already made eight-inch diameter bore holes in the non-forest area in the 0.9-hectare buffer zone of the reserve. The board now wants to install seismometers at a depth of 1,500 metres to study the probability of earthquakes due to the reservoir.
However, nine conditions have been laid down. The project proponent needs to deposit two per cent of the cost of the proposed project with the conservator of Forest and Field Director at the reserve in Kolhapur for habitat improvement.
The project site should be appropriately fenced (preferably using chain link fence or pulsating fences) so that no wild animal accidentally falls within the bore hole. All project activities related to drilling, movement of vehicles and humans, exploration, post-construction monitoring and maintenance should continue only during daytime (8 am-6 pm) and should be conducted in the presence of a competent forest officer.
In compliance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, construction of new approach/access routes within the forest would require prior approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and blasting won’t be permitted.
Further, the requirement of any further survey/ monitoring/ data collection/ maintenance should be with permission from the field director of the reserve and should be conducted in the presence of a competent forest officer.
More importantly, drilling waste should be dumped outside the forest land. The project proponent will reclaim the land before the lease period is over.
The chief Wildlife warden would himself constitute a monitoring committee comprising local forest officials and the user agency to oversee the implementation of the project in adherence to mitigation measures. An annual compliance certificate on the stipulated conditions will be submitted by the project proponent to the Limaye and an annual compliance certificate will submitted by him to the Government of India.