Panaji: Differences have emerged within the Manohar Parrikar-led government in Goa over the decision on buffer zones around wildlife sanctuaries in the state, which is crucial to the fate of mining leases operating in the vicinity.
     
While state cabinet has resolved that the buffer zone should be one kilometer for wildlife sanctuaries except in two cases where it is 100 metres, State Forest Minister Alina Saldanha has strongly opposed it claiming that the buffer zone should be maximum two kilometers.

There are around 33 mines operating within one kilometer of the wildlife sanctuaries and seven more mines between one-two kilometer ranges.
     
Saldanha told that her decision to have two kilometers buffer zone is to protect flora and fauna of the state.
     
"I firmly believe that we are not the last generation to live on this earth. We should protect the environment for future generations," she commented.
     
Sources said that the state cabinet which met on last Wednesday resolved to have one kilometer as a buffer zone but the resolution was not unanimous as Saldanha objected to it.
     
Alina is a wife of former tourism minister late Matanhy Saldanha who had fought for the cause of environment in the state.
     
He had died few days after being inducted in Parrikar led cabinet, which forced Alina to join politics. She won Cortalim constituency by-election and was later inducted in the state cabinet.
     
The state government has justified its stand of having just one kilometer buffer zone stating that Goa is already losing lot of land due to restrictions over Costal Regulation Zone, heritage sites etc.
     
Saldanha told "it is my moral responsibility to protect the environment and forest in the state."
     
"I also look upon a buffer zone as a fix deposit which could be fetched upon during the last extreme if need arises," she added.
     
The forest minister said that the buffer zone should be two kilometers for all the contiguous wildlife sanctuaries while in case of Salim Ali Bird sanctuary situated across an island near Panaji, it can be 100 metres as decided by the state government.
     
Government has decided as per its wisdom but I stand by my decision, she said.

(Agencies)

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