Nagpur: The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), the apex decision-making body on projects in corridors and protected areas (PAs), has rejected the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation’s proposal to build the Greenfield airport in the Vihirgaon and Murti villages in Rajura Taluka in Chandrapur. . The project was proposed by state forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who said it would “promote” tiger tourism in the state.
The minutes of the meeting said the proposed airport will affect functional connectivity and may result in a spate of human-wildlife conflicts in the district. The proposed airport site has 63,540 hectares of land, of which 25.27 hectares are protected forest land and 38.27 hectares are reserve forest land.
The NBWL standing committee was further informed that the study report of the Wildlife Institute of India mentions that given the wildlife value of the area and its importance as connecting corridors, the current site will not be considered for construction From the airport.
The standing committee noted that Morwa airport is situated within Chandrapur and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport (Nagpur airport) is located 150 kilometers from Chandrapur. The member secretary of the national tiger conservation authority also said that the area has a good presence of tigers and the location of this project will have an adverse impact on the movement of tigers, according to the minutes.
A senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) official said, “After the four-lane National Highway, it takes two hours from Nagpur airport to reach the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. Having an airport in Chandrapur would be disastrous. “We have a large presence of tigers throughout Tadoba Andhari and the buffer zone and it would have been disturbed.”
It is pertinent to mention that the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) during its meeting held on December 9, 2022, observed that the proposed site is surrounded by non-forest land and recommended the state government to explore other options for the use of non-forest land. forest land instead of using forest land for the project.
The FAC also advised the state to explore the possibility of expanding the existing Chandrapur (Morwa) airport. The Inspector General of Forests, Forest Conservation Division, informed that this project proposal has also been rejected under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
Mungantiwar wanted this proposal to promote tiger tourism in the state. He said: “Some officers are opposed to this site, but I will press it again. The recommended site does not affect wildlife.”