Reacting on the PIL (public interest litigation) filed by Surat-based activists Rajkumar Sutaria, the Gujarat High Court has ordered an immediate shutting down of 67 sandmining activities which continued to operate even after the expiration of their leases in Gir forest. It is to be noticed that Gir sanctuary is the only abode of Asiatic Lions where census on lions went on till Wednesday.
The decision came by panel consisting of two judges of the High Court, comprising Justice Jayant Patel and Justice GB Shah. The verdict was made after Sutaria filed an petition stating that lease period of 67 sandmining units have already expired back in 2014 and still they continue to operate. Although, they have made proposals for further extension of leases but Gujarat forest department have already made clear that these 67 units would not be given NOC (Non Objection Certificates) to mine on the areas surrounding Shetrunji River in the Gir Sanctuary area.
Although the construction and development activities are prohibited within the radius of 10 km in Gir sanctuary, still the mining activities were going on which posses a serious threat to ever decreasing population of lions. “Though the Gir Asiatic lion sanctuary is protected as an eco-sensitive zone where no construction or development activities can take place in a radius of 10 km, mining in the Shetrunji river has been going on, threatening the existence of wildlife,” the petition alleged.
Moreover, it is still to see how much sandmining has affected the population of lions in Gir sanctuary as results of census that was conducted recently are about to come on 10 May.