October 1, 2008

Navys Training Centre Inches Closer to Reality

By Anand McNair

GANDHINAGAR: The Indian Navy's proposed plan to set up a ship training centre at Marine National Park and Sanctuary, extending from Jamnagar coast to islands in the Gulf of Kutch, inched closer to reality after it recently got a nod in principle from Union environment ministry.

Indian Navy has to get approval of Central Empowered Committee set up by Supreme Court, official sources told TOI. The ministry recently agreed in principle to regularise the INS Valsura's training centre at a small area of 0.41 hectares (4,100 sq mt) near Rozi port, having rejected the request on earlier occasions. This training centre has been operational here for sometime, official sources said.

Marine National Park and Sanctuary, set up in 1980, and marine forests spread in an area over 900 sq kms, support an amazing array of marine life and bio-diversity and a variety of habitats. The area is rich in coral reefs, mangroves, mudflats, creeks, estuaries etc. where major species found are sponges, corals, jelly fish, sea horse, octopus, oyster, pearl oyster, starfish, lobster, dolphin, dugong and waterfowls.

Indian Navy wanted to regularise the training centre but it's request was rejected by the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) on the ground that it would damage marine life. However, Union ministry agreed to the Navy's request when Gujarat government did not raise any objection to the move and assured steps would be taken to ensure marine life and mangrove forests are not adversely affected.

As far as Gujarat government was concerned, it has given its opinion on the issue. Now it is up to the Indian Navy how fast it can expedite clearance to the project by getting required approval from the Central Empowered Committee, the sources said. The Indian Navy officials were unavailable for comments on the issue.

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