The Gujarat Forest Department has started relocating crocodiles from two ponds near the Statue of Unity to make way for a seaplane service, The Indian Express reported on Friday, 25 January.
About 15 of the 485 crocodiles that inhabit the two ponds on the Sardar Sarovar Dam premises have been evacuated, the IE report said. These reptiles, known as mugger crocodiles, are endangered species, categorised under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
Crocodiles Could End Up Closer to Human Habitats: Official
For a week after these crocodiles were rescued, they were kept in the custody of the forest department before being released into the reservoir of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam, according to the report.
Speaking to the newspaper, an official of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) said:
"“It may not be possible to release all into the reservoir in one go. They will have to be distributed in other places as well. It is most likely that a lot of these crocodiles could end up going back closer to the human habitats from where they were once rescued and brought to the Narmada.”" - Official, SSNNL, as told to The Indian Express‘Relocation Dangerous for Crocodiles’
Director of Community Science Centre in Vadodara Dr Jitendra Gavali told the newspaper that the transfer of reptiles for making a seaplane terminal was “against the principles of the Wildlife Protection Act”. He also pointed that this move be dangerous for crocodiles.
"“Moreover releasing them into the dam reservoir would mean that the female crocodiles may not be able to nest if the slope of the dam is more than about 40 degrees. Crocodiles need space on land to nest and also to come out of the waters during winter.”" - Dr Jitendra Gavali, Director, Community Science Centre
He slammed the government, saying that they should have also thought about spending money to make an artificial pond for the landing of seaplanes instead of relocating the reptiles.
Through the seaplane service, officials plan to connect various cities of Gujarat to the Statue of Unity to boost tourism in the state.
(With inputs from The Indian Express)
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