The proposal of the Government of Rajasthan to construct the well for drawing water for Kota from National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary area got approval from National Board of Wildlife (NBWL), the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India.
The approval came after the assurance of the chief minister Ashok Gehlot regarding measures to be taken up for ensuring conservation of the National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary. The National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary is spread across three states- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It is the abode of fish-eating Gharial (a kind of crocodile), which survives on the clean rivers only. Gharial is one of the most critically endangered species of crocodiles. In 1970s, it came almost close to extinction. It is estimated that at present, there are merely 200 Gharials in the forests.
Apart from the Gharial, the National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary is also home of threatened Gangetic Dolphins, Indian Skimmers, hundreds of migratory birds and the rare species of turtles. Withdrawal of water from the sanctuary can prove fatal not just for the endangered Gharial but also for the dolphins.
Back on 28 March 2013, the standing committee of NBWL in its 28th meeting chaired by Jayanthi Natarajan, the Environment Minister, rejected proposal of the Government of Rajasthan for constructing intake well near left bank of Chambal river at Kota barrage reservoir. The committee explained that the exploitation of the water of Chambal would have deleterious effect on Gharials found in the river.
In the meanwhile, NBWL also rejected the proposal of Rajasthan Government for setting up Clinker Grinding and Flyash Mixing Unit within 10 km of National Chambal Gharial Sanctuary at Kota, with the same reasons and explanations.
The Rajasthan Government nevertheless wrote to the Environment Ministry to reconsider the project and eventually on 19 July 2013, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot assured to ensure that there would be sufficient water at all times for the protection of Gharials. Thereafter, NBWL discussed about the project in two successive meetings on 6 June 2013 and 4 September 2013, eventually bringing green signal for the project.