Karnataka new wildlife board kicks up a row

The earlier Wildlife Advisory Board was constituted during the last days of the then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy

Mysuru: The Karnataka government revamping one year old Karnataka State Wildlife Advisory Board has kicked up a row, with those opposed destruction of critical habitats being replaced by some individuals with dubious distinction, including with charges of illegal mining in Ballari district.

The earlier Wildlife Advisory Board was constituted during the last days of the then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and the present one has become Bengaluru centric `wildlife experts' being filled up for the smooth conduct of the Board's business as per whims of the government.

The government has replaced Congress MLA Soumya Reddy as representative from Legislature and three MLAs -- L A Ravi Subrahmanya, Poornima Srinivas and MLC Shantharam Siddi as its members. The contentious decision was to replace two key representatives from experts category -- Dr Ajay Desai, who is acclaimed to be elephant expert in entire country, who has been recently nominated by the Supreme Court to monitor elephant corridor restoration in the Nilagiri biosphere, Tamil Nadu and Sanjay Gubbi, who was advocating habitat management for mitigating human-wildlife conflict.

Adding to woos, they have been replaced by people like Alok Vishwanath, son of BJP MLA representing Yelahanka constituency, Bengaluru and Dinesh Singhvi, a miner from Ballari, who is settled in Bengaluru. Barring two journalists -- Vinod Kumar B Naik and Joseph Hoover and a retired IPS office Chickerur, the other members hardly have gone byond wildlife safaris in the forests.

Besides being a weak body, the entire wildlife circle is up against appointing Dinesh Singhvi as one of the members, contending that the miner is a self claimed wildlife photographer who does not fit in to wildlife expert, wildlife biologist or environmentalist section to be a member.

A source in Ballari told Deccan Chronicle on Friday that Dinesh Singhvi’s mining company in Sandur, Bharat Mines, fell into illegal mining category after his mining lease area caused massive destruction of forests. Dinesh reportedly has close links with forest officers serving Ballari in the past and present helping cause to be a State Wildlife member. Dinesh Singhvi’s family is a mining family, said the source and added that Dinesh owns a steel plant in Hospet of Ballari. But, a friend of Dinesh termed him as an industrialist and not a miner.

A mine owner of Ballari, Tapal Ganesh who fought against illegal mining activities, stated that Dinesh Singhvi is an associate of former minister Gali Janardhan Reddy who was jailed in connection with illegal mining in Karnataka and raised doubts over Mr Yadiyurappa in appointing Dinesh, Tapal Ganesh also questioned “What is the contribution of Dinesh to conserve wildlife and forests?”

Reacting to Dinesh appointment to the Wildlife Board, Minister for Forests and Environment who is also the vice-chairman of the Wildlife Board, Anand Singh assured “I will check into the matter.” Anand Singh and Dinesh Singhvi are from Ballari.

Over the appointment of Dinesh, a newly appointed State Wildlife member admitted that Dinesh Singhvi’s appointment has resulted in a controversy. Efforts to contact Dinesh Singhvi to know his contributions to wildlife and forests went futile.

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