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Great Indian Bustard fights for survival in Maharashtra

Times of India , Tuesday, September 09, 2008
 
NEW DELHI: It's a fight between local residents and voiceless winged birds that sit on the brink of extinction where the former clearly seems to have an edge.
 
The battleground is the Great Indian Bustard sanctuary located around 400 km from Mumbai and spread over the adjoining areas of Solapur and Ahmednagar districts covering over vast area of 8,496.44 square kilometre.
 
The sanctuary is now all set to be drastically reduced by 96 per cent to merely 395 square kilometer with the Maharashtra Government filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court for its approval in the matter.
 
Justifying the government's move, Rajendra Magrulkar, joint secretary in Forest ministry in Maharsthra government told PTI that the decision (to cut down the area) was taken keeping in mind the interest of the locals.
 
"In 1979 and 1985, around 8,000 square kilometre area which covers Solapur habitat was notified as forest area.
 
This has made the things difficult for the authorities as it has resulted in legal tussle between people and officials since no commercial activities can be allowed in the region," he said.
 
The official denied allegations that the move was to please mine owners who were not allowed to carry out any mining due to the restrictions imposed by the notification.
 
Instead, it is to 'correct' the 'wrongs as well save the birds from human-attack,' Magrulkar asserted.
 
The Great Indian Bustard is critically endangered species and are peculiar to the semi and semi-arid grasslands of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.