BIODIVERSITY BOARD'S FIRST APPROVAL IS FOR ITS OWN CHAIRMAN'S PROJECT – 12th September 2013

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN

NAGPUR: For whom is the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board (MSBB) working? While the board sanctioned its first project for forest minister Patangrao Kadam's 'Bharatiya Vidyapeeth', in Pune, a proposal to notify 150-year-old 'Glory of Allapalli' in Gadchiroli as a biodiversity heritage site, has been kept pending. 

The MSBB, in its fourth meeting on March 28, 2013 had given 'in-principle' approval to 'Glory of Allapalli' as biodiversity heritage site under Section 37(1) of the Biodiversity Act 2002. The MSBB formally submitted the proposal to the government on June 2. However, it is still pending. 

In the same meeting, four proposals - one from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and two from Bharatiya Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education & Research (BVIEER) were also submitted for financial assistance. In addition to these, many important biodiversity hotspots in Maharashtra were also listed. However, one proposal submitted by BVIEER was withdrawn from the agenda at the last moment. 

The proposal withdrawn was 'Prioritization of biodiversity heritage sites in Western Ghats' (project cost Rs5.72 lakh) submitted by director of BVIEER with an objective to create a database of ecologically fragile sites with unique biodiversity conservation potentials as well as threats in Western Ghats. 

Another BVIEER proposal was about 'Linking biodiversity and faunal values to cultural visual heritage as a tool for biodiversity conservation in Maharashtra (project cost Rs5.61 lakh)'. Interestingly, director of BVIEER Erach K Bharucha is also the chairman of MSBB. 

The third proposal - 'Threatened birds of Maharashtra (project cost Rs4.5 lakh) - was submitted by director of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai. It proposed to bring out a book on threatened bird species, their habitat, conservation practices needed for their conservation and to disseminate information for developing awareness among people. 

Apart from the above proposals for financial assistance, hotspots listed as potential biodiversity heritage sites included Bhigwan (Ujani), Shivadi (Mumbai), Jayakwadi & Nandur Madhameshwar, Kaas Plateau (Satara), grasslands in Nashik, Kekatpur Lake (Amravati), breeding sites of Saras (Gondia), GIBs (Warora) and Lesser Florican (Akola) and fossils (Sironcha). 

However, the board sanctioned financial support to Bharatiya Vidyapeeth's 'Linking biodiversity & faunal values to cultural visual heritage sites' project and BNHS's bird book proposal of Rs4.5 lakh. The first instalment of Rs3.90 lakh was also released to BVIEER. There was no response from former MSBB member-secretary Anmol Kumar. New member-secretary U G Asavak said, "I took charge recently. I will have to check-up about projects sanctioned. The BVIEER projects were cleared when I was not in charge." 

Asavak said proposal of 'Glory of Allapalli' as biodiversity site is on track. "We will have to pursue it with the government," he added. 'Glory of Allapalli' has been under scientific management for 150 years, but the State is taking too long to issue a notification. The MSBB in its fifth meeting on September 7, had reminded the government to expedite the process. While government may be taking a long time for Allapalli, MSBB lost no time to pick its own chairman's organization's project to fund. 

MSBB website to be launched soon:

The MSBB website will be launched soon once the necessary certificate is issued by the audit agency. The guidelines for research and study projects to be funded by the board has been finalized by MSBB and will soon be placed on the website.

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