A new proposed highway between Seijosa and Bhalukpong in Arunachal Pradesh will cut through the Pakke Tiger Reserve that is an 862-sq.-km tropical forest refuge for hundreds of animal and plant species, some found nowhere else in the world.
Proposed highway might destroy 160 ha of forest land
The 49-km Seijosa-Balukpong road has been designed as an elevated corridor near the border of Arunachal Pradesh with Assam.
If built, it will destroy at least 160 ha of forest land and fracture a continuous jungle corridor between Pakke and the Nameri Tiger reserve in Assam, an important tiger and elephant passage in the region.
The issue came to light after environmental activist, Jorjo Tana Tara, received some documents on the proposed East-West Industrial Corridor under the Right to Information Act from the reserve’s divisional forest officer.
The documents refer to three options for connecting Seijosa with Bahlukpong as part of the project. They suggest the shortest route of about 48 km that passes through the reserve via an elevated corridor.
The documents cite the merits of an elevated corridor and say they include the minimum conflict between the road users and the wildlife, free movement of animals, 24-hour traffic movement and enhancement of tourism etc.
Violation of the Forest Acts: Environment Activist
Jorjo Tana Tara, said the project would be in violation of the Forest Acts of 1940 and 1972.
“The government said the elevated corridor at the PTR won’t harm the animals in any manner. But won’t materials be carried through ground? Also, trees have to be felled and pillars erected from the ground. Petrol, diesel and other materials will be transported. If there is an accident there tomorrow, there will be a loss of natural habitat. There will be other side effects as well. That’s why we are opposing,” Tara told media.