Khammam: Getting permission from the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for acquiring forest land for Sitarama Lift Irrigation Project (SRLIP) is not an easy task and the officials of the Irrigation Department are equipping themselves with answers to all the queries that may be posed by members of the Board. After getting permission from the Telangana Board for Wildlife to acquire 442 hectares in the eco core zone of Kinnersani Wildlife Sanctuary, the state government is speeding up the process of getting permission from NBWL. The Board permission is mandatory for the 442 hectare land acquisition to irrigate 6.75 lakh acre through SRLIP. The Kinnerasani Wildlife Sanctuary, which spread across 62,500 hectare once, has been reduced to 40,000 hectare due to the encroachments. The sanctuary spreads in four assembly segments of Kothagudem, Yellandu, Pinapaka and Wyra.
Many people from plain areas, pretending to be adivasis, are cultivating the forest lands to the extent of 23,000 hectare. The 442 hectare land is located in Kinnersani Wildlife Sanctuary where precious wildlife including gaur, cheetah, deer and rare birds are found. The government has evolved an action plan to submit to NBWL on how the pipelines will be laid without affecting the moment of wildlife. The government proposed 12 underpasses of pipelines or canals for the free moment of the wildlife to be built at the site, with an estimated cost of Rs 2.41 crore. There is also a plan to build eco-bridges and also for grass to be raised on both sides of the pipelines and canals for the deer and other grass loving animals.
Saucer pits making water available to the wildlife will also be made as part of the plan. The State Wildlife Board members and non-government organisations were invited to visit the Kinnerasani Wildlife sanctuary for initial understanding of their plans and not to harm any wildlife there. The irrigation officials were asked to study the Assam projects where the NBWL cleared 18 out of 25 projects in some of the most crucial wildlife zones of the country including five tiger reserves in 2015. The State Government has constituted a standing committee of NBWL and in doing so has flouted the Wildlife Protection Act's requirement for independent experts. The new Board has also replaced ten individual experts with two new ones, bringing the total number of outside members to just three.