Pawnee National Park’s grasslands, national park, are now protected
Pawnees National Park, the world’s largest grassland with an area of more than 3,000 square kilometres, is under threat.
The state-owned park was declared a national park in January 2017, with its forests being protected under the Park Act, but the new designation has brought with it many problems.
The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in Pune and is home to about 40,000 species of plants and animals.
“The state of Maharashtra has created a legal framework for the protection of the state’s natural resources, which is yet to be fully implemented,” says Prashant Bhushan, executive director of the Pawneep Trust, which oversees the park.
The trust has also been dealing with the consequences of the recent announcement by Maharashtra government that the state will no longer have any jurisdiction over the park after April 2019.
“Our park is not going to be allowed to grow.
Our animals will be killed and we will lose our parks.
We have been suffering for the last 20 years.
It is the worst experience for the parkkeepers,” says Ravi Kumar, the head of the wildlife sanctuary at Pawney Trust.
The new state-of-the-art park has already faced severe drought in recent years and it is not clear how long the state government will continue to maintain the park or how the park will be managed.
A major problem, says Bhushannan, is that there is no way of ensuring that the parks habitat is protected for future generations of the park’s species.
The area covered by the PWN, which covers around 8,000 sq km, is considered a natural habitat.
In 2015, the park was granted National Park Status under the Act, which allows the state to manage the parks land in accordance with the principles of conservation, natural resources protection and management, conservation and restoration.
In the past decade, Pawnay Trust has worked with the Maharashtra government on many projects, including a rehabilitation project to restore the park to its former glory.
“We have also worked with our neighbours to ensure that our lands are protected from encroachment and damage.
We are working with the environment department to ensure the area remains safe,” says Kumar.
In September 2017, the government announced that all the remaining land in the park, which was in the control of Maharashtra government, would be allotted to Pawneem Trust.
“All the land in Pawnem Trust will be allotted by the state and our management will be overseen by Pawnekers Trust.
We will be responsible for the maintenance of the parks natural habitat and wildlife, as well as protecting its wildlife and the flora and fauna,” said Kumar.
The Pawneree Trust, in collaboration with the Forest Department and other authorities, will also take over management of the area around the Pavanam hills, a protected wildlife area.
However, as the new state government is yet unfulfilled with its promises, it is unlikely that the park would be given the status it deserves in the future.
The National Park Authority (NPA), the nodal agency for protecting national parks, has yet to take a decision on the status of the entire park.
NPA has not yet received any official application from the Trust.
It will need to receive the information from the Pwnee Trust in order to determine if the PNN is indeed a national treasure.
The NPA did not respond to queries about the status status of this historic park.
“I don’t know how long we will have to wait for the state administration to implement the plan to protect the park,” says Bhoshan.
“It is very frustrating.
We can’t stop the encroachment.
But the government has not done anything to stop it,” he says.
“Now we are facing a real dilemma.
If they give us the green light, how can we stop it?”