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No nod for new roads in wildlife protected areas


Indian Express, New Delhi, 25th November 2013

An Environment Ministry panel has denied permission to state governments to build new roads and widen existing ones in Wildlife Sanctuaries and other Protected Areas, where animals continue to die in road accidents.


The report of the panel, noting roads have “detrimental ecological effects on both terrestrial and aquatic natural ecosystems”, emphasised that roads and highways should bypass National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.


Instituted in June by the Jayanthi Natarajan-led Ministry of Environment & Forests to frame a comprehensive guideline for construction/ repair or roads passing through PAs and design the best practices for such roads for wildlife conservation, the sub-committee of the National Board of Wild Life (NBWL) has recommended guidelines like avoiding new roads in National Parks and core Tiger Habitats and maintaining and repairing existing roads without widening them.


The same rules apply to Sanctuaries and Reserves but culverts, and resurfacing of damaged road sections with stone chips, can be considered for approval, the report states.


Method of such road construction, such as blasting, borrow-pit digging and their impact on wildlife should be a criteria for consideration. The same guidelines apply to roads within 1 km of National Parks/ Core Critical Tiger Reserves/ Wildlife Sanctuary, the report says.


The Committee said the Wildlife Institute of India should formulate detailed guidelines for roads through these areas.


The Committee has sought views of the state governments.


The report suggests ban on night traffic to save animals from disturbance, regulations on timing and volume of traffic, no stoppage, adherance to speed limits and setting up speed-breakers, no honking and no littering in PAs.


Measures like retaining natural animal tracks across roads, underpasses and other structures and no road construction/ repair between 6 pm and 8 am were also recommended so that the animals are not disturbed.


Standing Committee members called for a blanket rule to have only two-lane roads in PAs and their vicinity