Nation Other News 03 Oct 2022 Experts decry move t ...

Experts decry move to allow borewells in RoFR lands

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Oct 3, 2022, 10:14 am IST
Updated Oct 3, 2022, 10:14 am IST
Praveen Bhargav, former member of National Board for Wildlife  — DC Image
 Praveen Bhargav, former member of National Board for Wildlife — DC Image

HYDERABAD: Oil palm cultivation requires huge quantities of water with each tree needing around 200 to 300 litres of water every day besides requiring a lot of irrigation. Since the RoFR lands, where the Telangana government wants to push oil palm cultivation, are inside forests and without dedicated irrigation sources, the state forest department has said that those having rights over RoFR lands can go ahead and dig borewells.

This decision has left many forest officials aghast even as the department’s top officials themselves are not clear as to whether a single borewell can be allowed per individual or group RoFR claims, or the distance to be maintained between two borewells or if a fresh borewell will be allowed to be dug if an existing one dries up. There is also no clarity, whatsoever, if new borewells will be allowed to be dug for raising oil palm in wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, or tiger reserves.

Every borewell will also require laying of power lines, which, in turn, will require permissions under the Forest Conservation Act, and if any wildlife is present in the area, then also under the Wildlife Protection Act.

“Drilling of borewells for oil palm again does not remotely come within the ambit of Section 5 of the RoFR Act. In fact, the gram sabha is duty-bound to stop any activity that adversely affects wild animals and biodiversity,” contends Praveen Bhargav, a former member of the National Board for Wildlife.

“Further, in many cases, drilling of borewells requires creation of new roads. The Supreme Court has clearly prohibited new roads inside sanctuaries and national parks and the Union ministry of environment has issued guidelines in this regard. Therefore, the question of creating new roads for borewell rigs to enter sanctuaries and national parks does not arise,” he said.

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