On November 12, the assistant min ing engineer of the district’s Roopwas block, where a part of the 20,600 ha. Sanctuary falls (the other part falls in adjoining Bayana block), wrote to the collector about denotifying the forest land after a quick survey. Senior forest officers say they do not recall any sanctuary land being denotified since the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 came into being, adding that it will face scrutiny from the judiciary and activists. To begin with, the mines department will apply to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) for denotification along with a fee of Rs 6 lakh per ha. and supplementary details of the replacement land to be handed over to the state forest department. The department will examine the application and make a recommendation to the Centre for its consent.
The sanctuary, first notified in 1985, gets its name from a dam at Bare tha, built over the Kukund river in the 19th century to supply water to the Bharatpur bird sanctuary 45 km away, and the BansiPaharpur village, which lends its name to the pink sandstone exclusive to this area. The area has a few natural water bodies and is notorious for illegal mining, extortion and shelter ing of dacoits. Also, unlike the state’s other wildlife sanctuaries, there is little to identify the place as a sanctuary—not counting the migratory birds—not even a designated entry gate. But subsequent to the Supreme Court order in 2006 in Goa Foundation vs Union of India, a December 2018 notification of the MoEFCC identified an ecosensitive zone around the sanctuary and banned nonforest activity there.
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