Citing tourist safety, crocodiles near Statue of Unity being relocated
(Sourced from PTI)
Crocodiles from two ponds near Statue of Unity, Narmada district, Gujarat, are being relocated for safety of tourists visiting the Sardar Patel memorial, officials said today, while dismissing reports that the move is linked to the seaplane service. As many 20 cages have been set up along the banks of the two ponds, officially known as Dyke 3 and 4, to trap the crocodiles.
These dykes are artificial water bodies created to stabilize the water released from the Sardar Sarovar Dam before it reaches the entry point of the main Narmada canal. Aradhana Sahu, Conservator of Forests, (Vadodara Wildlife Circle) said that 12 crocodiles have been caught so far, though she added there was no specific target for the number of these reptiles that need to be captured.
"The area around the Statue of Unity near Kevadiya village is attracting huge number of tourists. Since there are crocodiles in these ponds, there exists a threat to the tourists. We have begun the process of relocating the reptiles elsewhere," Sahu said.
"We haven't set any specific target of the number of crocodiles to be caught and relocated. Till now, we've shifted 12 crocodiles. They were caught from Dyke 3 and Dyke 4, which are close to the Tent City. As per a rough estimate, there will be around 300 crocodiles in that area," Sahu said. A field officer overseeing the operation further shared their plans.
The officer said 20 cages, with meat and fish, have been installed as bait. "As soon as the crocodile comes out to eat the food kept in the cage, they get caught inside. We've kept all the captured crocodiles in our rescue centre. They will soon be released in the main reservoir of the Sardar Sarovar Dam," said Idrish Topiya, Assistant Conservator of Forests.
However, both Sahu and Topiya denied reports that the crocodiles were being removed from the dykes to make way for a proposed seaplane-service to cater to SoU tourists. "I want to clarify that we haven't made any plan yet to shift all the crocodiles of that area. The seaplane service isn't in the picture yet. We haven't received any intimation about it," Sahu emphasized.
"We're relocating these crocodiles just for the safety of tourists. There's no specific instruction to us about any seaplane service" Topiya added. SJ Haider, Principal Secretary, Gujarat Civil Aviation department, said a location for a water aerodrome near the Sardar Patel memorial has not been decided yet. He, however, said the location of the water aerodrome will "most likely" be Dyke 3 or 4.
"The location of the water aerodrome at the Statue of Unity will be decided in consultation with DGCA (aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation). It'd most likely be Dyke 3 or Dyke4," Haider said. Earlier on January 23, state Civil Aviation minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama had announced that a seaplane service connecting Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity would commence soon.
Recently, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had said over 10,000 tourists were visiting the memorial every day since the 182-metre statue, the world's tallest such structure, was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October last year. The statue is dedicated to the 'Iron Man of India', Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. The project cost a whopping Rs. 2,989cr.