Guwahati, Jan. 11: The forest advisory committee under the ministry of environment and forests has asked the Arunachal Pradesh government to study the wildlife impact of two upcoming defence projects close to the Sino-Indian border and have also advised them for a site change.
The two defence infrastructure projects in West Kameng district involve the diversion of 455 hectares of forestland.
Both the projects are located close to the border.
A source said the committee, after discussing the projects recently, has asked the state government to make a presentation on the impact of the projects on wildlife and forest vegetation of the area and the possibility of change of project site in the meeting.
“They were advised for a site change and hope that they can find an alternative,” the source said.
The decision was taken after the committee took note of the issues raised in the site inspection report submitted by regional office of ministry of environment and forests, particularly those related to wildlife.
Altogether 953.96 hectares of forest area in West Kameng district has been diverted for various projects since 1980.
The site inspection report said the area is home to a lot of wild animals and birds and has been declared an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International.
The area is also an ideal habitat for the endangered red panda.
Major wildlife species found in the area include red panda, wild boar, barking deer, monal pheasant, yellow-throated marten, wild dog and Arunachal macaque. Altogether 82,051 trees will be affected on both the project sites.
Sources said though there has been no scientific study of population of the red panda in Arunachal Pradesh.
However, it is estimated that more than 90 per cent of its population in the country is in Arunachal Pradesh.
A survey conducted by WWF at Pangchen Valley in the Zemithang area of Tawang district in December found five red pandas, of which three were found together.
“The abundance of sightings during this trip, especially of the younger ones, shows a healthy breeding meta-population, which is a very positive sign. More surveys and sampling will give a clear picture of the red panda distribution in the area and the conservation strategies required,” says Rajarshi Chakraborty, senior project officer (species), WWF-India, Western Arunachal Landscape Office.
While recommending the project, the regional office of the ministry of environment and forests in its site inspection report has called for least disturbances to the habitat and a minimum cutting of trees/clearing of ground vegetation.
Altogether 454.59 hectares of area has been identified for compensatory afforestation.
It has asked the army to engage the services of trained and reported wildlife experts to suggest measures for safeguarding the fauna in the areas before starting the work.
Plantation of suitable species and other measures may be taken in consultation with the experts.
Another condition is that army authorities should take strict provision for restraining the workers engaged in the project indulged in the hunting and illegal timber trade.