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Heliport with VVIP rest house at Kohora near KNP on cards

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, Nov 30 - The State Government has proposed a heliport, along with a VVIP rest house, at Kohora near the Kaziranga National Park (KNP).

The Public Works Department (PWD) of the State Government has sought a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the National Park authorities for construction of both the heliport and the VVIP rest house.

Experts have in the meantime described the proposal as very detrimental to the wildlife of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) as it is likely to create a lot of problems for the wildlife of the National Park and rob it of its natural ambience.

The Executive Engineer of PWD, Golaghat State Road Division has, in a recent communication with the Director of the National Park (No TC-28/2019-20/2236), requested the Director of the National Park to issue the NOC for construction of the heliport with approach road at Engleng Pathar, Kohora under SOPD (G) for the year 2019-�20.

The Executive Engineer said that the heliport �is been desired� by the Chief Minister keeping in view the increasing visits of VVIPs to the National Park.

�The heliport is proposed with facilities for landing 3 helicopters simultaneously along with VVIP rest house, along with other essential amenities,� said the Executive Engineer.

The Executive Engineer requested the Director of Kaziranga National Park to inspect the site and provide an NOC for early initiation of the project.

The site map provided by the Executive Engineer suggests that Hatikhuli Tea Estate would be located to the north of the proposed heliport, while the proposed rest house would be located to its southwest corner. The Karbi Anglong Hills would be located to the south of the heliport. The Aranya Tourist Lodge, Bonani Tourist Lodge, Assam Police Guest House and Prasanti Tourist Lodge would be located to the southwest of the heliport.

Reacting to this report, former PCCF (Wildlife) DP Bankwal said core areas of the protected forest areas have been kept free from all man-made disturbances. This is why aeroplanes do not fly close to a wildlife area. Noise pollution caused by helicopters flying over the forest area is definitely going to adversely affect the wild denizens.

He reasoned that all mutual communication among the wild animals are made through sounds/grunts at various pitches. Studies have shown that members of the same bird species use different sound frequencies for the same communication in open country and dense forests. Any interruption in this behaviour, evolved over millennia, is fraught with risk of low breeding and stress to the animals and birds concerned.

He said that sound generated by helicopters is of the order of 140 decibels, which is enough to cause panic and stress among the wild animals and birds. Decibel scale is a log arithmic scale, where 10 decibels equal to ten times more intensity of sound, 20 decibels difference means 100 times more intensity, 30 decibels difference means 1,000 times more intensity, etc.

Citing the example of forest officials flying drones in Dhikala grassland of the Jim Corbett National Park, he said the sound of the drones made the elephants run helter-skelter. Again, there was an attempt to count thamin deer, also called brow-antlered deer, in Keibul Lamjao National Park of Manipur, with the help of helicopters in the mid-1990s. But the project had to be abandoned as the animals bolted in panic.

In order to scare away elephants from the railway track, Indian Railways are mimicking the sound of bees hummimg near the railway tracks. There is information that Railway staff themselves are getting stressed by the irritating sound.

Studies in wild elephants have shown that human disturbance has been causing increase in their cortisol � stress hormone level. One such study is under way in IIT Guwahati. Disturbance due to regular noise may lead to aggression in elephants of Kaziranga National Park as well, he said.

�It is not permissible as it will harm the wildlife,� said another former top forest officer.

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Heliport with VVIP rest house at Kohora near KNP on cards

GUWAHATI, Nov 30 - The State Government has proposed a heliport, along with a VVIP rest house, at Kohora near the Kaziranga National Park (KNP).

The Public Works Department (PWD) of the State Government has sought a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the National Park authorities for construction of both the heliport and the VVIP rest house.

Experts have in the meantime described the proposal as very detrimental to the wildlife of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) as it is likely to create a lot of problems for the wildlife of the National Park and rob it of its natural ambience.

The Executive Engineer of PWD, Golaghat State Road Division has, in a recent communication with the Director of the National Park (No TC-28/2019-20/2236), requested the Director of the National Park to issue the NOC for construction of the heliport with approach road at Engleng Pathar, Kohora under SOPD (G) for the year 2019-�20.

The Executive Engineer said that the heliport �is been desired� by the Chief Minister keeping in view the increasing visits of VVIPs to the National Park.

�The heliport is proposed with facilities for landing 3 helicopters simultaneously along with VVIP rest house, along with other essential amenities,� said the Executive Engineer.

The Executive Engineer requested the Director of Kaziranga National Park to inspect the site and provide an NOC for early initiation of the project.

The site map provided by the Executive Engineer suggests that Hatikhuli Tea Estate would be located to the north of the proposed heliport, while the proposed rest house would be located to its southwest corner. The Karbi Anglong Hills would be located to the south of the heliport. The Aranya Tourist Lodge, Bonani Tourist Lodge, Assam Police Guest House and Prasanti Tourist Lodge would be located to the southwest of the heliport.

Reacting to this report, former PCCF (Wildlife) DP Bankwal said core areas of the protected forest areas have been kept free from all man-made disturbances. This is why aeroplanes do not fly close to a wildlife area. Noise pollution caused by helicopters flying over the forest area is definitely going to adversely affect the wild denizens.

He reasoned that all mutual communication among the wild animals are made through sounds/grunts at various pitches. Studies have shown that members of the same bird species use different sound frequencies for the same communication in open country and dense forests. Any interruption in this behaviour, evolved over millennia, is fraught with risk of low breeding and stress to the animals and birds concerned.

He said that sound generated by helicopters is of the order of 140 decibels, which is enough to cause panic and stress among the wild animals and birds. Decibel scale is a log arithmic scale, where 10 decibels equal to ten times more intensity of sound, 20 decibels difference means 100 times more intensity, 30 decibels difference means 1,000 times more intensity, etc.

Citing the example of forest officials flying drones in Dhikala grassland of the Jim Corbett National Park, he said the sound of the drones made the elephants run helter-skelter. Again, there was an attempt to count thamin deer, also called brow-antlered deer, in Keibul Lamjao National Park of Manipur, with the help of helicopters in the mid-1990s. But the project had to be abandoned as the animals bolted in panic.

In order to scare away elephants from the railway track, Indian Railways are mimicking the sound of bees hummimg near the railway tracks. There is information that Railway staff themselves are getting stressed by the irritating sound.

Studies in wild elephants have shown that human disturbance has been causing increase in their cortisol � stress hormone level. One such study is under way in IIT Guwahati. Disturbance due to regular noise may lead to aggression in elephants of Kaziranga National Park as well, he said.

�It is not permissible as it will harm the wildlife,� said another former top forest officer.