Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue VI

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue VI

Newsletter-June-2014 (7.0 MB, 1244 downloads)

Wildlife & Cultural Ethos

On the occasion of the World Environment Day Prime Minister Mr. Modi tweeted
“We are blessed to be a part of a culture where living in complete harmony with the environment is central to our ethos. Let us serve as trustees, where we utilise our natural resources for the present and at the same time ensure happiness of our future generations.Let us ensure that even the smallest step we take in our daily lives will be an effort towards conserving nature and natural resources”.

I am really encouraged by the Prime Ministers statement though there are also some aspects of his statement that could have been articulated better.

It is not often that a Prime Minister of this country remembers that environment and wildlife is part of our cultural ethos. The Tiger and Lion are considered to be the vahana or vehicle of our Goddess Durga/Sherawali Maa. Elephant the vehicle of Lord Indra the King of Gods, the owl vehicle of Maa Laxmi the Goddess of wealth, the snake adorns the neck of Lord Shiva, Lord Kartikeya has peacock as vehicle, Lord Vishnu has Garuda or the present day Brahminy Kite and so on and so forth

In short, each and every animal and living species is considered holy by being associated with our Gods. Unfortunately today we kill them as we deem fit. Lets examine the case of the elephant.

Save the Elephant

Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed God is living in dire straits. Killed by speeding trains in many parts of West Bengal, UP and other parts of the country; poached for their ivory and domesticated and abused every day by elephant owners, this God is all but forgotten except perhaps his china made statues that adorn most of our homes or our car dashboards. There was an elephant task force constituted by the previous Government. Unfortunately beyond naming the elephant as our National Heritage Animal the previous Government has done preciously nothing to protect the elephant or its habitat.

The Elephant Task Force report produced by the hard work of some knowledgeable scientists and men and women of repute is gathering dust. A major part of the elephant habitat is outside our protected areas. The Elephant Task Force report had recommended to buy back some of those lands to protect the elephant migratory corridors. Unfortunately, given the low priority for our National Heritage Animal, there has been no budgetary allocations to buy and secure the elephant habitat. Budgetary allocations to buy back lands as enumerated in the Elephant Task Force report would help in ensuring the future of the elephants is safe as well as reducing the man-elephant conflicts. The fatalities, both of man and elephant, would be reduced as well.


Elephant dragged 400 meters to the middle of a bridge

Elephant dragged 400 meters to the middle of a bridge by a speeding train

The elephant is fighting an increasingly losing battle for survival. Will the Honble PM kindly look into the Elephant Task Force report to help in securing the survival of this God in distress?

Scrap Sethusamudram Project

I would also like to bring to the Honble PMs notice a massive blunder by the previous Government which wanted to push the Sethusamudram Project on the basis of questionable financial benefits. The Supreme Court appointed R. K. Pachauri committee in its February 2013 report had concluded that the Sethusamudram Project would neither be economically nor ecologically viable. The committee had said that benchmark rate of return of 12 percent isnt met for the range of scenarios examined in the case of alignment 4A. It said that the projected rate of return, which was used by the project proponents to justify the financial viability of the project, is indeed over optimistic.


Adams Bridge or Ram Setu which is going to be destroyed by the Sethusamudram Project


The Sethusamudram Project will require dredging in this area, and will result in sedimentations which will stop the sunrays from reaching the sea grass leading to their death. There are about 11 species of sea grass found in this area which forms exclusive diet of the dugongs or sea cows, an endangered species.Death of seagrass will result in the dugongs perishing. Apart from the dugongs, the seagrass also forms an ideal ecosystem for various fish species which sustains commercial fishing and the economy of Tamil Nadu.

The Sethusamudram project is going to destroy the Adams bridge which is believed to be the Rama Setu, built by Lord Rama for moving into Lanka (modern day Sri Lanka) to fight against the demon king Ravana who had kidnapped Lord Ramas wife Sita. Mythology, perceptions and beliefs are inextricably linked with our cultural heritage. Protecting this cultural heritage would assuage the feelings of millions of Indians.

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant:

It would be apt to remind the Honble PM a story from the Mahabharata. After the Mahabharata war, Gandhari had asked Krishna as to why her 100 sons had to die. Krishna had replied that it was written in Gandharis fate that she was destined to watch her 100 sons die. Krishna told Gandhari that during her younger days, while cooking rice Gandhari had poured hot water on the ground and that resulted in destroying hundred eggs of an insect. The insect had cursed Gandhari to witness the death of her sons the way the insect had to see the death of her own.

Stunned by this discourse, Gandhari had said that it was the act of an innocent child. Krishna had explained that the laws of Karma are like that. Every action howsoever unintentional has an equal reaction, and one has to experience it in this life or the next. So in some parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana women are advised never to pour hot water on the ground. The hot water must be cooled or mixed with cold water before pouring on the ground.

This story from our rich cultural heritage teaches us not to harm other living beings and is very similar to the story of the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant in Maharashtra which on completion will release massive volumes of hotwater into two creeks which will kill the flora and fauna of the creeks.

The environment clearance for this project was granted by the previous Government on the basis of NEERI report which ignoredthe thermodynamic study report about the impact of hot water discharge into the creeks. The impact of the hot water release into the creeks is going to be severe especially during low tides. NEERI also had based its report on November 1989 data of sea water currents. I am sure the Honble PM would agree that a Power Plant which will be operational in 2024 and has got environmental clearance based on data from 35 years ago is a major anomaly. The creeks are rich in marine life and the major source of livelihood for about 15,000 fishermen and their families. Since the previous Government didn’t listen to their protests and many of them even lost their lives in police firing, these people had voted for the present BJP led NDA Government. I would urge the Honble PM to intervene and save the rich biodiversity of the area as well as livelihood of people.

Save the Narcondam Hornbills

There is an endangered species of hornbills, numbering less than 350 birds, called Narcondam Hornbill (Aceros narcondami) who reside only in the Narcondam islands. The proposal of the Coast Guard to set up a RADAR station as well as power generator will entail damage to the habitat due to clearing the area for a road and location for RADAR. There would be disturbance due to the regular functioning of the RADAR system and it is likely to cause irreversible damage to this species and can push them to extinction. So this proposal of the coast guard was earlier rejected by the MoEF on 31.08.2012. Unfortunately now the MoEF has reversed its stand.

Narcondam Hornbill

Endemic and endangered Narcondam Hornbill will be severely impacted by Coast Guard RADAR project

The Honble Supreme Court of India in its judgement on the relocation of lions had stated that Article 21 of the Constitution of India protects not only the human rights but also casts an obligation on human beings to protect and preserve a specie becoming extinct, conservation and protection of environment is an inseparable part of right to life. It had again observed, no specie can survive on the brink of extinction indefinitely and the probability associated with a critically endangered specie make their extinction a matter of time.

We do understand the requirements of the Defence forces, especially with the reported listening outposts by China in Myanmars coco island. However, proactive diplomacy can often open up doors and be much better than these reactive steps. The first external visit of the PM was to Bhutan, a neighbouring country in an apparent effort to engage and foster good relations with our neighbours. I hope India focuses its effort to engage with Myanmar as well, so that the challenges of China setting up outposts can be met.

Our defence forces always rise up to the challenges. I am sure they can search for alternate solutions to safeguard our borders as well as our natural heritage. The Honble PM had said Let us ensure that even the smallest step we take in our daily lives will be an effort towards conserving nature and natural resources. A small step to find out a solution to safe guard the future of this endemic species would go a long way in stopping their extinction.

Natural Resources Not Infinite:

The Honble PM Mr. Narendra Modi had also said Let us serve as trustees, where we utilise our natural resources for the present and at the same time ensure happiness of our future generations.

The meaning of the word trustee is that of a person who holds or administers property for a third person. The word trust is used as the person holds the trust of the third party to ensure that the property is secure. Which means the trustee doesnt consume or utilise the property for his/her own benefits. However, in his statement, our PM talks about trustee utilising the resources for the present. He has not said that as a trustee he or his Government will protect our natural heritage for the future generations. Instead he is talking of utilising ie consuming it in the present and his speech writers perhaps believe that even though the present trustees consume/utilise the natural resources the future generations will be happy. I wonder how the future generations will be happy with us when we are plundering and finishing off our natural heritage today?

Perhaps there is an assumption that our natural resources are endless.Unfortunately that assumption is completely wrong.

There was a time when releasing pollutants to a river from an industry was still ok because the number of industries were less and the river could cleanse itself of the small amount of the man made pollutants dumped into the river.

There was a time when clearing a few patches of forest for roads, industries or submerging part of it for dams was ok because we had thought that we had huge tracts of forest land and the patches of forests cleared was small enough in comparison. Today we find that our forests have become isolated patches surrounded by human habitations. With loss of forest cover desertification is setting in with 69% of Indias landmass being dry (ISRO 2007 report). Our forests due to their carbon sequestration act as our lungs.

There was a time when a few trucks, busses, industries belching out smoke was fine as they were few and far between. Today our air is heavily polluted and the children learn not to play outside for fear of air borne diseases.Every year 627,000 people die in India due to air pollution (estimated by Global Burden of Disease project). About 1.3 crore people above the age of 15 years suffer from asthma and 1.1 crore people above the age of 35 years suffer from bronchitis (2010 health ministry).

There was a time when as children we used to drink water from taps without any problem. There was a time when I used to drink water from the streams directly without fearing for the consequences. Today we have poisoned a majority of our ground water sources due to rampant pesticide spraying along with other kinds of pollution. Bottled water has become the norm. Millions of our countrymen don’t even have clean drinking water, which is a basic necessity. A couple of months back I was astonished to see the water overflowing from the overhead tank was being collected by street children and women so that they can have some water for their homes. When there is such a huge difference between the Have’s and Have not’s can this country progress?

So how do we make our future generations happy Mr. Prime Minister when the present is coughing, bleeding, sneezing and struggling on its limbs?
I am really happy that soon after taking oath the PM has reportedly promised to cleanse Ganga, a river which has become so polluted that a dip in it can cause skin cancer. Similarly Yamuna and other rivers are dying because of pollution, diversion of water, mindless dam constructions which has reduced the flow of the rivers and their ability to self cleanse. I hope the new Government will take a holistic look at the challenges of polluted rivers.

The other reported move of the Government in looking into the Himalayan landscape would be a good move as it is an ecologically fragile area which is currently under tremendous stress.

I am sure the current Government due to its absolute majority will have more time to look after Governance instead of fighting the coalition compulsions and hence will be able to give more time to save our natural and cultural heritage.


Can Mass Media help in conserving Mahseer & Riverine ecosystem?

by Nishikant Gupta


Other Conservation News:

Pilibhit Wildlife Sanctuary gets Tiger Reserve Status:

Three tigers caught on camera in Tillari region


Book Review

Tiger! The Story of the Indian Tiger by Kailash Sankhala


Equipment Discussions

BBS Area 48 Remote Phosphor light review


Natural History

COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M. Krishnan: The Lion Tailed Macaque : By Saktipada Panigrahi


Sounds of Nature

Blue eyed Bush frog by Abhishek Jamalabad


Wilderness Updates

Birding places in and around Bhopal by Mangru Minz

BRT Wild Life Sanctuary-Abode of the Gods-A feb visit 2014 by Shyamala Kumar


Image of the Month

The honor for the Image of the Month, May 2014 goes to the image of Rajan Kanagasabai titled “Raining Elephants”


Wildlife Photography

Blackbuck by Kaustuv Chatterjee

Wild Buffalo by Anand Madabhushi

White-bellied Fish eagle by Shyamala Kumar

Rufous Treepie by Bibhav Behera

Banded bay Cuckoo by Jitendra Katre

A way through dense forest by Dr Ajay Kumar Singh

The Alien Bug by Anil Kumar Verma

Lynx spider by Prajwal J Ullal

Indian Tree Frog by Abhishek Jamalabad


I look forward to your inputs and support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in our beautiful country. For other interesting articles and images check -

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Newsletter-June-2014 (7.0 MB, 1244 downloads)
Sabyasachi Patra
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