Is Thol a Khadir in the making?

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government has decided44_2_20111231 to allow railway tracks to be laid within 700 metres of Thol bird sanctuary. The tracks will be for electrified railway lines capable of handling 25 tonne axle load and trains of 750 metres.

There are fears that proximity of high-tension wires over railway lines will lead to disasters like the one that took place in Khadir in Kutch. It is earlier understood how 400 migratory birds died after coming in contact with high tension cables near their breeding grounds in the Khadir region. Greater and lesser flamingos fly thousands of miles to escape the chill of Siberia and breed in the warmer climes of Khadir in Kutch, near the India-Pakistan border.

Railway officials said that the electric lines passing near Thol will carry power at around 25 KV. Sources in the forest department said that according to the tender document issued soon after the proposal was given final approval, the electrified lines will support movement of trains at 100 km/hour.

Officials claim that the members of the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife members had inspected the site before clearing the proposal, but the minutes of the October 31, 2012 meeting do not mention electric lines.
Pc0011700The minutes talk of tourist facilities, underpasses for wildlife and pipes for reptiles etc, but there is no mention about electric lines or the impact on the birds.

“The lines will be in the core area of the takeoff and landing of the birds,” an official said on the condition of anonymity. Another official said that the department plans to plant trees along the tracks and this will invite birds, leading to incidents like Khadir.