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Friday, October 14, 2011

17 highways threaten tiger habitats

October 14, 2011 By Rashme Sehgal Correspondent New Delhi The tiger population is facing a growing threat from heavy traffic with the ministry of surface transport demanding environmental clearances for 17 highways across tiger reserves from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF). The Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand is facing a massive problem as over 50,000 vehicles ply through the highway (NH-58 and NH-72) on a daily basis thereby preventing animals from moving from one part of the reserve to another. The MoEF is keen to repopulate this park with tigers but this can only be done if these highways are relocated. Rajaji National Park project director S.S. Rasailly believes that the bifurcation of the park to allow traffic to ply through it has prevented animals from going to the nearby rivers to drink water. Tiger experts believe that one of the main reasons why Sariska tiger reserve became unviable for tigers was because of the construction of the Jaipur-Alwar highway which cuts through it. “Despite the government having constructed a bypass road, truck drivers continue to ply through the Sariska reserve,’ said Rajasthan’s chief wildlife warden R.N. Mehrotra. The story has been repeated in Ranthambore with the road connecting Sawai Madhopur to Madhya Pradesh cutting through the Ranthambore tiger sanctuary, he added. The corridors between Kanha-Nagzira-Pench, Navegaon-Nagzira, Tadoba-Melgat are under threat from road widening, encro-achments, mining, power and other developmental projects. “The tiger has to be protected but also the forests. If the forests go, so will the tiger, points out Dr Rajesh Gopal , member secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority. The MoEF’s rejection of the NHAI proposal to build a four-lane road between Nagpur and Raipur was based on the recommendation of members of the NHAI who pointed out that the Nagzira Wildlife Sanct-uary and the Navegaon National Park were located on both sides of this contentious patch.