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TN expert panel rejects proposal for mining license to protect endangered blackbucks

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Chennai, May 15 (Ajit Weekly News) The State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) of Tamil Nadu has rejected a mining license to establish a large stone quarry in the Thoothukudi district. This is to protect the endangered blackbuck population even though the site is located outside the notified ecologically sensitive zone (ESZ) of Vellanadu Blackbuck Sanctuary.

The SEAC in a meeting held recently decided not to recommend the proposal for granting environmental clearance.

The SEAC in the statement said that it decided not to grant the license even though it was outside the Ecologically Sensitive Zone as the mining will have a damaging effect on the blackbucks that is an endangered schedule -1 species.

Environmentalists and conservationists are of the opinion that blackbucks are sensitive to environmental pressures. They spend the nights outside the sanctuary in the grass fallows and move back in the forest when outside disturbances increase.

Wildlife Conservationist Sugirtharaj Kovilpillai, while speaking to Ajit Weekly News said, “The preferred habitat of blackbucks lies in the eastern fallow outside the sanctuary and there is evidence of blackbucks foraging and grazing 5 km away from the sanctuary even along with farms, roads, and tanks.”

A study on blackbucks published in Indian Forester also says that the open fallow grasslands may serve as important breeding areas for blackbucks and need to be conserved along with the sanctuary.

Going by the opinion of environmentalists and wildlife conservationists, and on the basis of the study, the SEAC decided to withhold environmental clearance for the stone quarry project.

D. Mohanraj had applied for environmental clearance to quarry on 31 acres of land. The appraisal for the project was done in 2019. Terms of Reference was issued and public hearing was conducted on November 17, 2020. The proposed project was 1.6 km from the blackbuck sanctuary.

–Ajit Weekly News

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