Wildlife tourism earns governments billions of dollars in revenue globally, yet India is weeding out the residents of the wild to promote statue tourism.
The forest department in the western Indian state of Gujarat has set about removing endangered crocodiles from two ponds on the Sardar Sarovar Dam to start a seaplane service at the Statue of Unity, a project that cost the exchequer 29.9 billion rupees.
That’s only the material cost. The removal of the crocodiles is an intangible cost. As many as 500 crocodiles are being fished out from two ponds located near a dam on the Narmada river, the Indian Express reported.
Read more of the Indian Express article below:
There are around 485 crocodiles in two ponds on the Sardar Sarovar Dam premises, out of which, 15 have been removed already, all for a seaplane ride to the Statue of Unity. One of the crocodiles removed was about ten feet long.
Dr. K Sasi Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Narmada, said, “We are rescuing the crocodiles from Ponds 3 and 4, which are close to the site. We have put 10 teams of officials for the action.” For about a week, the crocodiles were in the custody of the Forest Department. Then, after considering the possibility of releasing them in their natural habitat, it was decided to let them out into the reservoir of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam. “That’s where most of them will be released,” Kumar said.
Examining this, a leading official of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), said, “For many years now, the Forest Department has been releasing crocodiles into the reservoir of the dam, apart from the main canal, the Ajwa reservoir and other canals.
This particular exercise involves hundreds of crocodiles. It may not be possible to release all into the reservoir in one go. They will have to be distributed in other places as well. It is most likely that many these crocodiles could end up going back closer to the human habitats from where they were once rescued and brought to the Narmada.”
The other sites shortlisted for the establishment of water aerodromes in Gujarat are Palitana and Dharoi Dam. Officials said the Civil Aviation Ministry was also contemplating classifying the operations under the Udan initiative for regional connectivity.
The crocodiles were in the custody of the Forest Department for the first week after which it was decided to let them out into the reservoir of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam.
India’s Civil Aviation Department and the Gujarat government have been working on a plan to build a seaplane terminal near Pond 3, also known as Magar talav (crocodile pond).
The seaplane terminal will link the Sardar Patel statue site with other cities in Gujarat. India launched the seaplane service with much fanfare last year and was inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi.