North East clusters forging ahead

Unified growth, the cluster way


Unified growth, the cluster way


Guwahati, June 23: Business clusters of the Northeast are forging ahead, registering phenomenal growth rates and volume within a relatively short span.

A cluster is a sector-specific geographical group of micro and/or small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), service providers and institutions having common opportunities and threats. In other words, it is a concentration of economic enterprises, producing a typical product or service or a complementary range of products or services within a given geographical area.

It is the centrepiece of a new approach focussed on increasing public private partnerships for creating support systems for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Several enterprise development organisations and institutions of the region are focussing on this approach, given its potential for growth.

The Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE), Guwahati, directly operates 16 clusters, which have registered sales volumes of Rs 22 crore in a year.

“It is a big business activity and now buyers are also coming up to enter into buy-back arrangements,” Sriparna Baruah, who looks after clusters at the institute, said.

The clusters of the region are also in the limelight at the national level.

Sources said CRISIL would undertake a rating initiative for the region’s clusters. This development can be deemed important, as it has not been done elsewhere in the country.

Moreover, three clusters from the Northeast have been selected from among a group of 25 clusters across the country under the National Innovation Council. The council was set up by the Prime Minister to prepare a roadmap for innovations in the decade 2010-2020, which has been declared as the decade of innovation with focus on inclusive growth.
The eri cluster of Umden in Meghalaya, being developed by the IIE, has been selected for further interventions under this initiative.

Another three clusters, which may be taken up for development under this initiative, are the brass and bell metal cluster in Hajo, Assam, the cane and bamboo cluster in Barpeta, Assam and the cane and bamboo cluster in Agartala, Tripura.

The best thing about clusters is that they give rise to collective benefits. For instance, clusters usually have spontaneous inflow of suppliers of raw materials, components and machinery or availability of workers with sector-specific skills. They also act as catalysts in creation of specialised technical, administrative and financial service providers. Last but not the least, they create a conducive environment for development of co-operation between firms as well as public and private institutions to promote local production, innovation and collective learning.

Baruah said one of the major problems encountered initially was the lack of credit. “We talked to bankers and others that has now resulted in credit linkages,” she said.

Apart from the institute, there are a number of clusters operated by different institutions across the region, which are doing good business.

The Assam government has also shown interest in the cluster development approach and will be identifying traditional industries like handicraft, textiles and other small sectors. These will be developed under the “rural business hub” concept, involving the private sector and panchayats. For non-traditional items, clusters will be identified and required common facilities developed.

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute, Guwahati is supporting a 60-member knife-manufacturing cluster at Karanga in Jorhat district — Dakhin Jorhat Karanga Komar Shilpa Somobai Limited. It works on pruning knives for domestic use and has registered a good turnover.

The Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre is also developing bamboo clusters across the region.

The Dubapara cane and bamboo cluster under the Ambedkar Hastashilp Vikas Yojana in Goalpara district has more than 700 artisans and 70 self-help groups are supporting the strong work force.

A cluster conclave, a buyer-seller meet, was held in Guwahati from August 29 to 31 last year and was the only event in the country that focussed on micro and small enterprise clusters. Products from 19 different clusters from the eight states of the region as well as three clusters from Uttarakhand were exhibited at the meet.

“Skills have been upgraded in various clusters, which is leading to better product quality and helping the product reach newer markets” she said.

“A lot of product development has taken place in the region’s clusters. What we want to ensure is quality and after that is ensured, sales will automatically pick up,” S. Deka, who looks after clusters at the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute, said.


Sonai Rupai on road to recovery

Sanctuary on revival route
- No encroachment, deforestation reported in Sonai Rupai in the past four years
Sonitpur, June 21: A red-wattled lapwing floated over the Sonai Rupai wildlife sanctuary with a loud call. Pygmy hogs seen all over and encroachers fled as they heard the footsteps of forest guards on patrol.
These are all signs that the sanctuary in Assam’s Sonitpur district is regaining health and all is not lost as was once assumed. However, to regain its past glory, the sanctuary still needs to recuperate and should be left undisturbed, sources said.
“The sanctuary is in good shape now compared to five years back,” Satya Vashishth, the district forest officer of western Assam wildlife division, Sonitpur, under which the sanctuary falls, told The Telegraph.
The 220 square km sanctuary had lost 85 square km to encroachment before 2007. According to the state forest department, there are at least 12,000 illegal settlers within the sanctuary. But not a single encroacher has been able to enter the protected area since.
“In the last four years, there has been no further encroachment as we have tightened our control. But there are threats and we have to be vigilant,” Vashishth said.
A forest official said frequent patrolling had put fear in the minds of encroachers. “Whenever encroachers hear the sound of a patrolling vehicle, they run away. There is a psychological fear amongst them which has been created. There is no other way.”
Naren Daimary, a forest guard, said he and his colleagues had risked their lives to save the sanctuary from encroachers.
“If Sonai Rupai falls, the pressure is on nearby Nameri National Park,” he added.
But can the land lost to encroachers be reclaimed ever. “Certainly, if the government acts tough by evicting the encroachers,” Daimary said.
Sources said this would be a tough proposition as the encroachers were a major vote bank.
Daimary also said a massive plantation programme was the need of the hour. The sanctuary had lost 35 per cent of its forest cover between 2001 and 2005, the worst affected being the central areas of Batasipur and Golai.
But things have started looking up. Vashishth said there had been no movement of boulders or timber logs on the 15km road from Kamengbari, on the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh, to Kalamati range in the sanctuary since 2007. “The movement of boulders and others disturbs a sanctuary,” he said.
Two-thirds of the 35 pygmy hogs that were released in the Gelgeli grasslands of the sanctuary between 2008 and 2010 have also survived.
Revamped infrastructure has ensured that at least 20 to 25 per cent of the forest guards can now stay with their families at Kalamati range, Vashishth said. “Infrastructure has been done up nicely and houses have been given a fresh coat of paint,” he added.
The guns have also stopped booming at the army’s short firing range located inside the sanctuary following protests and an order from the ministry of environment and forests. The order asks the army not use the firing range till it has obtained all the statutory clearances for using the sanctuary land for firing.
However, it was not easy to take the tough decisions as pressures from various quarters were high.
Conservation organisations like the WWF, which runs a North Bank Landscape Programme, speak highly of the forest officer. “He has done a tremendous job. The question is what will happen after he goes away,” a senior WWF official said.
This question has been on every mind concerned about the future of the sanctuary that was created in 1998 and handed over to the wildlife division in 2006.
In the meantime, a new signboard — Paradise for Wildlife — is ready to adorn Sonai Rupai. And why not? The sanctuary is already on its way to regain its wildlife paradise.


NE bamboo skills for Uganda, Ethiopia

Bamboo artisans to teach skills in Africa
- Training for bamboo craftsmen

 Roopak Goswami
Guwahati, June 17: Africa has been learning bamboo skills from the Northeast.
Trainers from Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre (CBTC) will be helping bamboo artisans in Ethiopia and Uganda to polish their skills and upgrade them in tune with the market demands and also enable them to make better products.
“This training will focus on product design, development and quality improvement, in line with the market demands. The programme will provide necessary knowledge, skills and attitude,” Kamesh Salam, director, CBTC told The Telegraph.
The training is being done under the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) project on — One Village, Industrial Cluster.
“The artisan skills in these countries is not good and hence our expertise was wanted,” Salam said.
Suresh Chandra Das and Subrata Chakraborty, who have been engaged by CBTC as trainers, will be there for one month from July 1 in both these countries to provide the skills.
Das has been awarded as the best craftsman by Tripura in 1998 and has been working in the bamboo sector since 1973 and also trained artisans in Tripura and Assam.
Chakraborty has been working consistently in the bamboo sector since 1996 and has developed many bamboo products.
In Ethiopia, CBTC trainers will impart bamboo-processing skills in Awassa cluster and similarly in Kisoro, Uganda.
A training course will be designed to improve the participant’s bamboo processing skills and the course will be developed considering the prevailing market for the particular products.
The trainees will be provided technical training through practical sessions.
One-to-one technical inputs will be provided for in-depth transfer of technical knowledge to the trainees depending on their needs and aptitudes. Product developments on basketry, tablemats, wall hangings, various types of decorative items, utility items, bamboo jewellery, clips, souvenirs and gift items for tourist markets are in the course module.
Trainees will be provided with knowledge and skills to perform treatment, preservation and storage of bamboo.
It will enable trainees to describe harvesting procedures of bamboo and select bamboo materials for a specified product application.
The trained artisans will be provided distant exchange through e-communications and provide follow-up in the immediate aftermath of the training.
Salan said the outcome of the training programme would be documented and submitted to the Unido headquarters along with a follow-up plan.
CBTC has trained bamboo farmers in Timor Leste for bamboo plantation and propagation and also trained the officials and trainers from the Centre for Bamboo Timor Leste, a Unido-implemented and funded project.
The CBTC was established in Guwahati in 2000 as a centre and secretariat for implementation of Cane and Bamboo Technological Upgradation and Networking Project, under the Unido country programme for India.
CBTC is also the bamboo technical support group of the National Bamboo Mission for the Northeast, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal.


Arunachal power plant impact study

Panel for study on power plant impact


 Guwahati, June 15: The forest advisory committee of the ministry of environment and forests has called for a study to assess the cumulative impact of hydroelectric projects on the riverine ecosystem on the Siyom in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
A source said this was decided at the committee meeting on May 30-31 while discussing the diversion of 313.88 hectares of forest land for construction of Tato-II hydroelectric project (700 MW) on the river.
The project has been undertaken by the Tato Hydro Power Private Limited.
The Siyom originates in the Upper Himalayas and flows in the southeastern direction. A series of big hydroelectric projects on the river has been identified — the 500MW Hirong project, 700MW Tato-II project, 1,000MW Naying project and 1,000MW Middle Siang (Siyom) project.
The source said after hearing the presentation of the company, the committee called for a study by wildlife experts/institutes to study the status of flora and fauna in the project area with special emphasis on endangered and rare endemic species.
The study should reveal the possible impacts and also suggest mitigating measures. It should examine risks of forest fragmentation and landscape level changes because of the direct and indirect impacts of the proposed project.
The state government may also be requested to give the details of various projects, including existing and proposed micro-hydel projects, and thus provide an overall plan for the Siyom.
The committee said the biodiversity plan prepared by the company urgently needed critical analysis and substantial redrafting. “It appears arbitrary and should instead be based on biodiversity conservation efforts on scientific principles,” it said.
The forest department has enumerated about 120,890 trees in the proposed diversion area. Compensatory afforestation has been proposed over degraded forestland spread over 628 hectares in the Aalo forest division.
The committee also discussed the diversion proposal of 78.45 hectares of forestland for implementation of the 96MW Nafra hydroelectric project by Sew Nafra Power Corporation Private Limited in Bomdila forest division of West Kameng district in Arunachal Pradesh.
The committee discussed the environment impact assessment report of the project but said no detailed report was available on the existence of terrestrial and avian fauna in the project area.
It has asked the chief wildlife warden of Arunachal Pradesh to give a report on wildlife presence and habitat in the project area, with special emphasis on endangered species.


real time disaster forecast in Northeast India

Centre for disaster forecast
- Isro chairman to inaugurate facility in Umiam next month

Guwahati, June 12: A real-time data centre, capable of issuing warnings ahead of natural disasters, is coming up in the Northeast.

The centre, to be set up at the North Eastern Space Applications Centre at Umiam near Shillong, will pool all data and expertise on disasters and issue warnings as much in advance as possible.

Isro chairman K. Radhakrishnan will inaugurate the Regional Nodal Centre for Disaster Data and Management Facility in North Eastern Region in the second week of July.

The flood early warning system has been around for sometime now, issuing warnings about precise locations at least 8 hours ahead of inundation.

The pinpointed locations with names and maps are issued to the state and district disaster management authorities.

A source said there was need for such a data centre for proper maintenance and updating of relevant data regarding all natural disasters in the Northeast along with a forum of experts in relevant fields from organisations like Indian meteorological department, Central Water Commission, Geological Survey of India and Isro, among others.

“The experts will examine the pooled data in real time and issue warnings about all types of impending disasters to the state and district disaster management authorities, to help them warn people and authorities in the high-risk areas,” the source added.

The source said the North Eastern Council (NEC) had been working on the issue for long and had held discussions with the Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre, which had assured full support.

The Centre then wrote to Isro, which, too, extended its support.

A committee was then set up under V. Jayaraman, Satish Dhawan professor at Isro, to work out the details.

“There is a crying need for an integrated approach to disaster management in the northeastern states, which are heavily interdependent on account of geo-climatic compulsions and considerations of terrain and communications network. The proposed regional facility will provide the necessary integration and coordination among experts at the technical level,” the source said.

Scientific institutions in the Northeast like the North Eastern Space Applications Centre, North East Institute of Science and Technology, Geological Survey of India and state remote sensing centres have collected data, which would be useful for the facility, the source added.

The source said minor funding support required for this new facility would not pose much of a problem as Isro and NEC were already funding the North Eastern Space Applications Centre.

The NEC has chalked out a strategy for a regional plan for disaster management in the Northeast in consultation with and concurrence of the National Disaster Management Authority.

“We are confident that this new facility would, in course of time, blossom into a model on which the state/district disaster management authorities could depend on to save lives, property and public assets and which would become worthy of emulation elsewhere in the country,” the source said.

Barring earthquakes of the past that still haunt public memory and apprehensions about a major earthquake in the near future, landslides in the hills of the region frequently disrupt vital lines of communication and cause serious shortage of food and essential items. Floods, too, take a heavy toll every year, while river erosion poses serious problems in several areas. Thunderstorms also cause heavy damage in certain parts of the region.

This facility will collect data about floods, cyclones, river erosion, earthquakes and landslides and other related phenomenon to which the region is highly prone and issue advance warnings whenever a disaster is about to occur.


star ratings for Assam roads

Star ratings for state routes
- World Bank’s road safety initiative for 960km in Assam
Guwahati, June 10: Roads in Assam will for the first time be given star ratings to determine their safety level.
An international road safety initiative supported by the World Bank will be providing star ratings to around 960km of roads in the state.
Star ratings provide a simple and objective measurement of the level of safety provided by a road’s design. The ratings will be between one to five depending on the level of safety.
This is being done under the iRAP (International Roads Assistance Programme) project funded by the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility. Three more states — Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat — have been covered by the project.
It involved collecting video and pavement condition data of roads in Assam, and generating road safety ratings for each of the routes.
“The road inspections were done by the Indian Road Survey and Management company using an ARRB Hawkeye 2000 network survey vehicle, which is a state-of-the-art pavement data collection system. It has a fully integrated four-camera digital imaging system and an inertial measurement unit,” Richard Wix, principal consultant of ARRB (Australian Road Research Board) Group Ltd, which has provided technical inputs for the project, told The Telegraph via email.
The inspections were done in April, in which 27 road corridors were surveyed with a total length of 960.027 km.
Wix said three cameras were used to record a panoramic view of the road ahead of the vehicle and one camera was positioned at the rear of the vehicle, vertically above the pavement to allow a visual assessment of the pavement.
The inertial measurement unit allows the geometry of the road to be measured.
“The survey team also collected roughness, rutting and texture information, which can be used by pavement engineers to assess the condition of the pavement as can the digital imaging,” he said.
He said some of the roads in Assam were very rugged and caused damage to the survey vehicle. However, the damage was quickly repaired with little delay to the survey.
Some of the roads were selected as they have been earmarked for improvement by the World Bank for a forthcoming road project. The other roads chosen, including road corridors with significant traffic volumes along which significant numbers of fatalities and serious accidents have occurred, will benefit most from the outcomes of the project.
Diganta Goswami, an assistant engineer of the public works department, said data analysis of the roads would start soon.
The entire work should be over by September.
Roads, which get four and five star rating, have safety features that are appropriate for the prevailing traffic speeds. The one and two star roads do not have appropriate road safety features.
Road engineers from Assam were taught how to rate more than 30 different road design attributes that are known to influence the likelihood of a crash and its severity from the video data using the Australian Road Research Board’s Hawkeye processing toolkit. This enables accurate processing of all collected parameters.


GTAC faces bleak future

Assam tea hub in doldrums


Guwahati, June 9: The future of the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre appears bleak with the Calcutta Tea Auction Centre upstaging it from the top spot for the second consecutive year.

“The future looks grim, and it would be sad if some initiative is not forthcoming from the government. Questions need to be asked as to what went wrong,” Kamal Das of Paramount Tea Marketing, a broker firm registered with the Guwahati centre said.

The centre was set up in 1970 to help the tea industry play a pivotal role in the state’s economy and enable local entrepreneurs to get a slice of the tea trade.

But warning bells were sounded a few years back when the Jayanta Madhab Committee on tea had said only mediocre varieties of tea were being offered at the Guwahati centre, resulting in lower prices. The Calcutta Tea Auction Centre was getting better varieties of Assam tea.

Assam produces 500 million kg of tea, and ideally, at least 50 per cent of that — 250 million kg — should be auctioned in Guwahati. But the situation has not been ideal at all, with only 126.62 million kg being sold in 2010-11 and 138.22 million kg sold in 2009-10.

On the other hand, in Calcutta, 152.28 million kg of tea was auctioned in 2009-10, whereas the highest quantity of tea ever auctioned in Guwahati was 159 million kg in 1999-2000, with a continuous downslide ever since.

The dip in sales volume has now led to renewed concern that the auction centre will face a tougher task if certain issues are not redressed properly.

Sources said till few years back only big companies, having tea estates in Assam, used to sell through Calcutta, but since last few years, even proprietor gardens have started sending their teas there, a trend that increased last year.

This year, even bought-leaf factories of the state have started sending their teas to Calcutta.

But the question is why do buyers pay Rs 10 per kg more at Calcutta while the same quality of tea is available in Guwahati.

The buyers say they are not able to pay on a par with Calcutta tea auction buyers because of a difference in quality.

The argument put forward by many that buyers prefer to operate from Calcutta because of better competition there does not hold good any more with electronic auctions.

“Buyers can now bid from Calcutta or elsewhere and the samples will be sent to them the next day,” Das said.

He said the chairman of the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre would have to personally visit Calcutta and lobby for its cause like its founder chairman Dharmananda Das had done. He had managed to convince a big export buyer like J.V. Gokul and Company Private Limited. But after Gokul, no export buyer has been operating here, he added.

According to sellers and producers, buyers do not offer good prices at Guwahati. In Calcutta, the sellers get good prices (Rs 7 to Rs 10 more) for the same quality of teas.

Moreover, as most buyers in Guwahati are agents, they are not in a position to bid after a certain price level.

A few years back, state industry and commerce minister Pradyut Bordoloi had reeled off statistics about how at least 10 major companies with gardens in Assam were bypassing the Guwahati auction centre and selling thro-ugh the Calcutta auction centre. But there was no impact of the revelation, with companies continuing to bypass the Guwahati centre.

Secretary of the Guwahati centre Jayanta Kakati said the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong is about to conduct a study into the reasons behind the decline in tea sales here and added that the terms of reference for the study were being finalised.

Bidyananda Barkakoty, member of the sales sub-committee of the centre, said adopting proper marketing strategies to attract both buyers and sellers with tax benefits for teas sold through the centre were some steps that could help reposition the centre as the number one CTC tea auction centre in the country.

Secretary of the Guwahati Tea Auction Buyer’s Association Dinesh Bihani said Calcutta had more competition because it had a good local tea market.

manas hopes to shed danger tag soon

Manas hopes to shed danger tag soon
 Manas National Park is likely to shed its World Heritage Site in Danger tag after 19 years.
The glad tidings are expected towards the end of this month from Paris where the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee will meet from June 19 to 29. 
This is almost a certainty, permanent representative of India to UNESCO, V.S. Oberoi, informed Jagdish Kishwan, the additional director-general of wildlife in the ministry of environment and forests, in a letter dated May 30.
“I write to inform you, on the World Heritage front, of some bit of cheering news — of the probability, in fact almost certainty — that the Manas National Park will be taken off the List of World Heritage (Site) in Danger after 19 years,” he wrote.
Oberoi says it is likely that the World Heritage Committee will at its meeting in June note that much progress has been made by Assam on corrective and restorative measures.
Available data and reports of the state government and the ministry of environment and forests state that rhinos have been reintroduced in the park and that there are indications of a steady but slow recovery of the population of tigers and their prey.
“Overall, the World Heritage Committee is likely to come to the conclusion that there is now progress in the restoration of the property’s integrity and its outstanding universal value,” Oberoi says. 
He says the issues that remain, at least for the present, are implementation of the state government’s assurances that funds received from the Centre and other sources would be promptly made available to the park authorities, a monitoring mechanism for conservation would be established, the population expansion programme for rhinos and swamp deer would be continued and the Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation would be shortly operationalised.
“We would require to make a statement at the Committee when this issue is discussed, on the issues listed above which essentially relate to the state government. It is the state government that needs to reassert and to take action on funding, monitoring mechanisms and on the establishment of the Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation. It is possible, that some of the countries on the Committee (Sweden and Switzerland spring to my mind) may have questions that will need to be answered. Subsequent to a positive statement from our side, Manas is likely to be removed from the List of World Heritage (Site) in Danger,” Oberoi says.
The importance of getting the danger tag removed was on the Centre’s top priority list. Environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh had asked Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi to present the improvement affected in the management of Manas before a visiting mission of Unesco-India earlier this year in a forceful manner. 
Ram Boojh of Unesco-India, who was a member of the monitoring mission that visited Manas in the last week of January, said the chances of the removal of the danger tag were good. “It is 65-70 per cent in favour of Manas,” he told The Telegraph
The mission had visited several areas within Manas National Park and a part of Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan and held discussions with several stakeholders. The mission report appreciated the work done for reconstruction and improvement of the park’s infrastructure, filling up of vacant posts and the efforts to reduce felling and poaching. The mission commended the Bodoland Territorial Council for its commitment to expand Manas National Park to the west, which will be an important step towards creating conditions for conservation of wildlife.
“We have done a lot of work for the improvement of the national park and the removal of the danger tag will give us more boost,” A. Swargiary, the field director of Manas National Park, said.


MoEF rules out dismantling of firing range in wildlife sanctuary in Assam

Status quo over Sonai Rupai firing range


Guwahati, June 1: The ministry of environment and forests has ruled out “dismantling” of the short firing range at Sonai Rupai wildlife sanctuary in Sonitpur district of Assam but has asked the army not to practise there until it obtains the necessary clearance.

“This is a setback to us as we wanted to dismantle the firing range. It is against the wildlife laws to have a firing range in a wildlife sanctuary,” the state chief wildlife warden, Suresh Chand, told this correspondent today. The state forest department had tried to dismantle the firing range in April this year but was prevented by the forces from doing so.

The Telegraph had published three stories in its various editions on the stalemate.

The ministry had taken up the issue after it received representations from various quarters, including the members of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife, on the construction and use of the firing range behind the Lama camp inside the sanctuary.

A.K. Srivastava, inspector-general of forests (wildlife) in the ministry of environment and forests, had written to the joint secretary in the ministry of defence, Subhash Chandra, last month, asking him to inform the army authorities to obtain the necessary statutory clearances for lawful diversion of land of the wildlife sanctuary for use of the firing range.

“Till all the clearances are obtained, the firing range inside the sanctuary may not be used,” he added.

The letter stated that while the ministry appreciates the need for setting up firing ranges for training and preparedness of the security forces (as the army has been maintaining), it feels that these activities should be carried out within the ambit of law.

Gajraj Corps, stationed at Missamari, had established the short firing range on forestland inside the Sonai Rupai wildlife sanctuary without following the legal procedures. The troops also practised at the range, which was in gross violation of the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the orders of Supreme Court.

According to Section 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, any non-forestry activity inside a wildlife sanctuary requires recommendation of the State Board for Wildlife. A Supreme Court order dated May 9, 2002 makes it mandatory for all cases involving this section to be referred to the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife.

In addition to the recommendations of these two boards, such a case would also require final clearance from the apex court according to a November 13, 2000 order. No forest, national park or sanctuary can be de-reserved without the approval of the Supreme Court.

“It would be difficult to give clearance to non-forestry activities in a wildlife sanctuary. We have to adhere to the rules and be very strict about it,” a forest official said.

The state forest department had constituted a five-member committee in the last week of April to examine the entire matter but the report has not yet been submitted.