Wednesday, Sep 17, 2003
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By Divya Sreedharan
The Forest Department is preparing a detailed project report (DPR) on "weak points" and "constrictions" along the boundary of the 104 sq. km. park. The department's project has come in the wake of increasing man-animal conflicts in the area. Last year, two people were trampled to death by elephants that raided villages around the park. The Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, then urged the department to find a solution to the problem.
Many villagers have slowly encroached on forest land, shrinking the habitat of the animals. Although the officials insisted that "fresh encroachments" had been checked, they maintained that they would urge villagers to voluntarily give back land they had encroached upon. "We will compensate them at market rates," sources told The Hindu. Besides, they also planned to increase the number of waterholes inside the park and plant more bamboo species.
The Bannerghatta park is contiguous with the Thali forests in Tamil Nadu. But "constrictions" on the Karnataka side hamper migratory animal movement between the forests. The department hopes its project will free the elephant corridor. But ironically, the proposed Science City juts into this corridor. The NGOs fear there will be more man-animal conflicts in future. They also believe that the State would slowly lose its wild elephants and that all the pachyderms would be domesticated.
The Forest Department also wants to improve the area just outside the Bannerghatta Biological Park, formerly called the Bannerghatta Zoo. For this purpose, it has acquired 156 acres at the entrance of the biological park. A Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation Hotel, a ticketing complex, and a modern parking space would come up there. This space is now occupied by petty shops. "We also want to improve amenities and expand the zoo," the sources said.
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