Sixteen hundred acres of dense forest have been cut in the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg wildlife corridor in four years since 2014, says a report submitted by an NGO to the government.
Shockingly, the deforestation happened after the 2013 Bombay high court order banning tree-felling in the sensitive 30-km corridor that connects the Bhimagad wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka to the Radhanagari sanctuary in Maharashtra. It is used not only by tigers but also other wild animals like elephants and bisons.
The destruction, at 103 locations within the proposed Western Ghats Eco Sensitive Area, has been mapped by NGO Vanashakti using Google Maps since 2013. The maps clearly show how lush green areas, indicating dense forest, have turned brown and bare or have been replaced with plantations (patchy green cover), industry or are being mined. Brown patches spread over acres have come up in the middle of dense forest.
“It is very difficult to do a physical survey, so we compared Google Maps of the area in 2014 to subsequent ones,” said D Stalin of Vanashakti.