Goa: Mhadei and Netravali get separate ranges

PANAJI: Eleven years after Mhadei and Netravali wildlife sanctuaries were notified, the state government on Wednesday created separate ranges for the two sanctuaries which according to the additional principle chief conservator of forests Dr Shashi Kumar will help in “intensive management” of the areas.

Announcing the creation of new ranges, the government through a notification signed by under secretary (Forests) Maria J R Pires, said that Netravali wildlife sanctuary range will have its headquarters at Netravali and Mahadei’s headquarters will be located at Valpoi. The jurisdiction of Netravali wildlife sanctuary and range has been transferred from deputy conservator of forest, South Goa, to deputy conservator of forests, wildlife sanctuary & Ecotourism, South Goa.

By another notification, the government has bifurcated the existing wildlife and eco-tourism divisions into two. Accordingly, three wildlife sanctuaries – Mahadei, Bhagwan Mahaveer and Bondla besides Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary (Chorao) and Bhagwan Mahavi national park will come under wildlife and eco-tourism (North) division with headquarters in Panaji. The other division – wildlife and eco-tourism (South) division will consist of two wildlife sanctuaries -Netravali and Cotigao. According to the notification, the bifurcation is done mainly for better administration and management. Earlier this month, TOI had reported plans of additional principle chief conservator of forests to have separate ranges.

Agreeing that it’s been 11 years since then governor J FR Jacob notified Mahadei and Netravali as wildlife sanctuaries, Dr Kumar said that the forest department had been on the job for quite a long time. Hitherto, Mahadei and Netravali were managed by territorial range officers. Sources in the know said that the separate ranges should have been created long ago.

Succcessive governments tried to denotify the wildlife sanctuaries partly or fully. The “grievances” of the villagers there had been highlighted by MLAs for long with even promises made that they would take up the matter with the Centre.Perhaps after the supreme court ruling that, once notified, no wildlife sancturay would be denotified, the political class gave up their demand for denotification. tnn

From TOI

Monsoon may hit Goa in next 48 hours: Met

PANAJI: Steady showers, in a few parts of Goa, brought the mercury down and provided much relief from the searing heat. But that is not the only good news. The south-west monsoon may set in over Goa during the next 48 hours.

“Conditions are favourable for the onset of south-west monsoon over Goa during the next 48 to 72 hours,” K V Singh, director, met department, Altinho, told TOI on Monday.

“Showers received on Sunday and Monday are pre-monsoon showers,” he said. But as the south-west monsoon has advanced over Kerala on Monday, Goa may soon follow on its itinerary. A low-pressure area has formed in the Arabian Sea which is likely to intensify into a depression,” Singh added. This might yield more rain and create favourable conditions for the commencement of the monsoon season on time.

A port warning has been issued as a cautionary signal for vessels going out in view of the likely depression. With regard to any cyclone, Singh said, “Sea wind will be there but not on land.” Mild to heavy thundershowers are likely in various parts of Goa during the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, Margao witnessed a heavy spell as the Met department recorded 80.1 mm of rainfall during the last 24 hours up to 8.30am on Monday, while in other places, the rainfall recorded was: Canacona 29mm, Dabolim 62mm, Mapusa 32.2mm, Mormugao 20.0, Ponda 1.2, Valpoi 9.3 and Panaji 63.8.

From TOI

Ludhiana: Tourism industry witnessess a boom

LUDHIANA: With Christmas and New Year round the corner, residents are in a holiday mood and making big plans to celebrate the events. This is evident from long queues of people outside offices of travel agents to get bookings for perfect destinations where they can revel in celebrations with their family and loved ones. The favourite destination among residents is Goa, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Mauritius, Singapore, Dubai and Switzerland.

So much so, all seats for these places have been reserved in various flights up to January 15.

According to information, the tourism industry has witnessed a boom this year compared to 2008, as many people had cancelled their trips due to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

However, this year, people want to make the most of it and usher in the new year with a bang.

Another favourite place among people is Andaman islands in Port Blair where bookings are full up to December 31.
Meanwhile, going by travel agents, many people have either changed their destinations or postponed their trips owing to heavy rush.

Nitin Grover, owner of Grace Travelles, said, “Goa is the ultimate choice of people who want to move out. However, newly married couples seem to prefer Kerala.”

He said hotels in Goa were booked to the brim despite the fact that the package was around Rs 1.25 lakh for four nights/ three day stay.

“There is no affect on business and people are spending lavishly on trips as it costs around Rs 70,000 for one person,” he added.

Talking on similar lines, Chetna Sachdeva from Yatra.com said the tourism industry was overcoming the meltdown effect. Besides, the threat of swine flu was not playing spoilsport and many preferred to celebrate the events in far-off places, she added.

“However, the prevailing weather conditions in Europe had hampered bookings in those countries,” said Chetna.

From TOI

Goa: Vultures on decline in Chorla ghat, say Greens

KERI: The world over, there is a hue and cry over the sudden decline in the numbers of vultures. The nine species of vultures which are found in India are today threatened, point out conservationists. Two prominent species, Gyps Indicus and Gyps Tenuirostris, are fighting a loosing battle.

In Goa, the Gyps Indicus, aka, long-billed vultures, were found in good numbers in and around the Chorla ghat region. But from 2006, their number has been gradually decreasing, say birders.

Pankaj Lad of Canopy Eco-tourism Venture, Margao, had reported nine vultures and four nests on December 3, 2004. However, in 2008 he reported only one nest and four vultures. The avid birder says, “Vultures these days are struggling for food in the Chorla ghat region as people have already stopped throwing dead cattle in the open.”

The long-billed vulture is the smallest of the species measuring about 95 to 100 cm in length. It has an elongated head with a long and heavy beak. It migrates during the monsoon and returns to Chorla ghat in October.

Deepak Gawas, a volunteer with Vivekanand Environment Awareness Brigade which is involved in environment conservation, says, “In 2006, I spotted nine long-billed vultures at the Vazra Sakhala waterfall in Chorla ghat. Their number has been decreasing steadily.”

Siddhesh Gawas, a trekker from Shiroli-Sattari, who recently organized a trekking expedition to the Vazra Sakhala waterfall in Chorla ghat, says, “We sighted four long-billed vultures on November 29. We also spotted their nesting site in the crevices of the waterfall.” Omkar Dharwadkar from Ponda even managed to photograph a long-billed vulture in flight.

Heinz Lainer, a well known ornithologist in his book ‘Birds of Goa’ has mentioned that the species of Gyps Indicus is today critically endangered. Most sighting of this bird is of singles and twos. Vultures mostly feed on animal carcasses but also take scraps from human settlements. Long-billed vultures are efficient scavengers. India has the highest number of cattle and vultures play an important role in carrion removal and prevention of diseases. Due to their decline, rotting carcasses lie unattended in several parts of the country, say reports. Environment magazine `Nature’ reported that diclofenac, a commonly used painkiller for cattle, was responsible for the decline in vulture numbers. Diclofenac was found to lead to gout, kidney failure and subsequent death of vultures. Meloxicam, another drug, was suggested as an alternative since it was not harmful to vultures.

Mining, logging and even monoculture plantations are conditions that change the habitat of vultures and are believed to be the cause of their decline.

From TOI

Eco-Tourism: Plant more trees in mining areas, appeals Patil

PANAJI: President Pratibha Patil on Monday called for conserving and preserving Goa’s unique natural environment as it promotes eco-tourism, adds to the state’s tourism profile and generates major revenue and employment for the state.

“Goa is renowned for its scenic beauty, its rich architectural heritage, its vibrant culture and its diverse flora and fauna,” she said speaking at a civic reception hosted by the government in her honour at Dona Paula. Stating that many countries have greatly benefited from their forests, she suggested better management and more afforestation in mining areas. “They can be important in generating social, economic and environmental benefits,” she said.

Incidentally, her statement comes in the wake of Goa winning an award for percentage increase in its forest and tree cover, though criticism has been rife about large-scale deforestation due to mining activities. Hailing Goa’s model of comprehensive development, Patil said combining economic growth with social progress, environment protection and cultural advancement had worked well for the state’s progress

From TOI