A Series of “Development Project” Threatening The Survival of Dumna Forest

The lungs of the city and the leopard habitat will face enormous destruction, especially since environmental issues have taken a back seat amid the pandemic. While civil society members are active on the ground, the government is initiating a wide variety of projects at a time when people cannot step on to the streets, which is why resistance movements are now gaining traction online to counter the proposed projects.” – Ajay Dubay, an RTI activist

Home to leopards, rich biodiversity and the Khandari lake – the Dumna forest ecosystem spread over 1,800 acres is currently facing a crisis of survival. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government and state governments have used the pandemic as a garb to push for projects, including the Central Vista project in Delhi and the concretisation of the Dumna green cover, that would otherwise draw public scrutiny and protests.

The  Dumna forest reserve in Madhya Pradesh is threatened by a series of construction projects. Dumna is an eco-sensitive zone which has a rich history of over 150 years of conservation and is home to many native species of trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses.

It boasts of diverse ecosystems – woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. It is home to nearly 2,000 deer-like cheetal, barking deer and the four-horned antelope. Dumna is also home to the jungle cat, Asiatic wild cat, wild boar and crocodile, to name only a few. More than 300 bird species, both migrant and resident, have been recorded here. Notably, Dumna also has a resident population of 9 leopards. It is important to note that so far, not a single case of human-wildlife conflict has been reported.

The movement to Save Dumna from such projects has been ongoing for the past five years – when a tiger safari was proposed in the heart of the forest reserve. As large scale protests grew, the central zoo authority shifted the location of the site. However, recently the state government has announced land redistribution for a slew of other projects including a 40 acre site for railway quarters, over 25 acres of land for a green city including a stadium and another 10 acres in the talks for a residential complex of those in the Revenue Department.

Jabalpur as a city is rapidly growing and we are cutting down our green spaces. It is a story that has been repeated several times in other cities before. There were 52 lakes in Jabalpur that have disappeared over the years. Nature has been part of the very fibre of the city. Thus, when something like Dumna is under threat it is kind of an existential crisis. We are not a city that has a large industrial base or we are not on any trade route. As a citizen, losing a natural place like Dumna would not only mean that we lose something of ecological value but it has a cultural significance too. It is something that we would like to call our own and preserve for our children. It is a heritage and thus needs to be preserved” – Rudraksh Pathak, Social Activist

Click on the link to know more in detail – https://india.mongabay.com/2020/10/proposed-tiger-safari-in-dumna-reignites-opposition-against-projects-in-the-reserve/

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