CEC opposes NHAI road project in Pench Tiger Reserve
5 Jul 2009, 1306 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: In a boost to wildlife lobby, Supreme Court-appointed Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) has shot down a controversial proposal of the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) to widen a road passing through Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, contending that it will be a threat to animals and the fragile ecosystem.
In the report submitted to the apex court last week, the CEC members said that the widening of the road connecting Nagpur to Jabalpur from two lanes to four lanes will increase traffic frequency in the area, scaring the animals, including endangered species like tigers and gaurs in the region, which may fall victim to the speeding vehicles.
The CEC also rejected the NHAI’s alternative Rs 600- crore plan to build 13 bridges and underpass on the route so that wildlife movement is not hampered, a source said.
The highway project which is a part of the North-South corridor covers a distance of 8.7 kilometre and passes through the tiger reserve and the reserve forest contiguous.
It was referred to the panel after the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) moved a petition for stopping the project alleging that road widening would fragment wildlife habitat and restrict movement of already dwindling wildlife between Pench and Kanha reserve.
The members have, however, have not sought closing down of the road but suggested that only light vehicles at a specified speed should be permitted while a complete ban be imposed on night traffic to prevent animal casualty.