Concern over safety of tigers in reserve
Excavation of underground tunnel of Srisailam project poses danger to big cats
HYDERABAD: Serious concerns have been raised about the safety of tigers in the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve after they were virtually flushed out of their natural habitat and spotted at least eight times in recent months.
The big cat’s safety in the reserve, the largest of its kind in the country with an area of 3,568 sq. km, is being compromised by the ongoing excavation of an underground irrigation tunnel of Srisailam project which will pass through the sanctuary’s core area. A 135-metre-long Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) has already created a 400-metre-long cave. Two TBMs are supposed to dig a 44-km-long tunnel, the world’s longest, from both ends in the next four years.
True to the forest authorities’ fears that the underground vibrations caused by the machines would disturb wildlife, tigers have strayed on to the adjoining Hyderabad-Srisailam highway and other roads.
A big cat was also seen on the road during day time which was a rare phenomenon. A forest official said their objection against the passage of the tunnel through the core area of the tigers’ natural habitat was brushed aside. Moreover, the seismic vibrations caused by TBMs would harm endangered animals like tiger, panther, sloth bear, mouse deer, chinkara and python.
Another official said a road was being laid without permission in the core area to the tunnel located on the foreshore of Srisailam reservoir. Debris from the tunnel, including huge boulders, was also being dumped into the reservoir.
The scenic beauty of the area was being destroyed at the slopes near the tunnel. Meanwhile, the tiger population in the State has dwindled from 200 in 1990 to 50-60 currently.