Petition against construction of roads through tiger reserves in Uttarakhand

By: Harsh

Uttarakhand, home to close to 340 tigers, does not seem to bother about rules when it comes to constructing a road bang inside a national park famous as the home of tigers and elephants.

A road is proposed to be laid between Garhwal and Kumaon by cutting a stretch of 11.5 km of the dense Rajaji National park Tiger Reserve forest area in Uttarakhand.

This includes a 4.5 km stretch from Chamaria Bend to Siggadi Sot — which is the sole wildlife corridor between Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) and RTR, which are the two premier sanctuaries of Uttarakhand.

Last year, this project had been put on hold by the Supreme Court directing the state government to first get clearance from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and NBWL(National wildlife board).

Wildlife Institute of India (WII) on the behest of NTCA recommended a “status quo” on the stretch between Chamaria Bend and Siggadi Sot staying that Blacktopping should be avoided in this route considering wildlife movement in the area. However, the forest department intends to use murram’ for allowing passage of vehicles.”

Notwithstanding WII suggestions, NTCA approved the project stating that a 100-metre-long underpass can be constructed after every one-kilometre road on the stretch.

After NTCA’s approval, NBWL also gave a green light to the project and extended the limit for the length of the underpass from 100 metres to 150 metres after every kilometre. So, the total length of the underpasses on the Laldhang-Chillarkhal road would now be a mere 705 metres which are way too less for smooth movement of animals.

This will adversely affect wildlife movement. A road cutting through the jungle divides a large area restricting animal movement, not to forget the road construction material on the ground will be hazardous for the animals. Also, the plantation will get highly reduced by road building.

Through our petition filed by me and my batchmates, we appeal to the state government that a 7.5 km-long flyover should be constructed over that stretch in a phase-wise manner so that movement of animals is not obstructed.

(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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