Black-necked cranes under threat at Zemithang

Staff Reporter
ITANAGAR, Apr 25: Although the wintering habitat of the revered black-necked cranes in Zemithang got a major respite by the National Green Tribunal order in April 2016 suspending the environmental clearance granted to 780 MW Naymjang Chhu hydropower project by Bhilwara Group in 2012, the cranes could not land due to sand mining and blasting for road construction this year.
While the birds have been coming from time immemorial to site, birds could not land in Zemithang for the first time this year due to human disruption.
Their arrival has been documented by locals with the support of World Wide Fund (WWF) for the past one decade.
A Wild Life Institute of India (WII) team has been doing a study at the site as fallout of the NGT judgment.
WII scientists have already been co-authors of peer-reviewed scientific papers stating the wintering site at Zemithang should be protected as a nature reserve.
Even after mining was stopped, blasting was still allowed for road construction despite knowledge to government of the sensitivity of the site.
Black-necked cranes are considered as an embodiment of His Holiness, the 6th Dalai Lama who wrote about the bird in his poetry.
The State Board for Wildlife is meeting on April 26 and it remains to be seen whether it will take up the case of habitat destruction of cranes due to sand mining and blasting, which allegedly is happening without environment and forest clearance.