Tribune News Service
Dehradun, April 22
A “green road” that runs through the Corbett National Park and provides a vital link between Uttarakhand’s Garhwal and Kumaon divisions is set to become a template for development in sync with wildlife conservation in the country.
The 90-km Ramnagar-Kotdwar road (Kandi Marg) will have a 50-km mostly elevated stretch traversing through the Corbett Park, allowing unhindered movement to the wildlife in the tiger reserve and providing a solution to the perennial man-animal conflict.
With 2020 as the construction deadline, the Corbett stretch will have a flyover, bridge and underpasses.
The proposal for metalling of this road was envisaged by the Public Works Department way back in 1976. Two patches, one from Kotdwar to Gujjarshrot and the other from Laldhang village to Ramnagar, were even metalled at that time. However, construction activity had to be stopped following enactment of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. After the formation of Uttarakhand in 2000, the demand for a proper Ramnagar-Kotdwar road once again gained momentum. The road will reduce the travel distance between Ramnagar and Kotdwar by 82 km, and ensure that travellers do not have to criss-cross Uttar Pradesh.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ecotourism Development Corporation of Uttarakhand Limited and the National Building Construction Corporation Limited in Dehradun on March 18. NBCC Ltd will construct the road with a project cost of Rs 2,000 crore. Its Executive Director (Engineering) Yogesh JP Sharma says the process of preparing a detailed project report is underway. “The challenging aspect is the Corbett stretch, requiring an ecological balance of development with conservation.” The entire construction activity has to be carried out under the technical guidance of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). NBCC’s feasibility report will have to get clearances from the State Wildlife Board, the National Tiger Conservation Authority and finally, the National Wildlife Board.
Uttarakhand Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat is hopeful of clearing all the hurdles. “The very concept of ‘green road’ is based on the fact that it will be strictly adhere to WII’s recent guidelines entitled ‘Eco-friendly Measures to Mitigate Impacts of Linear Infrastructure on Wildlife’. We are very sure that the Ramnagar-Kotdwar road will finally be a reality,” he says.
WII director Dr Vinod Mathur points out how in the course of development, obstacles for wildlife invariably come up in the form of roads, railways and other infrastructure. “A ‘green road’ thus has an element of design that is aimed to minimise these impacts. It is basically a win-win situation both for development and conservation,” he says.
Tiger conservationist Dr Hem Singh Gehlot feels the ‘green road’ will further the cause of wildlife conservation in Corbett’s porous southern region. “Such initiatives must be taken up in other protected areas and can be used to avoid man-animal conflict scenarios.”
As enthused is Dr Anil Kumar Singh, Team Leader, Terai Arc Landscape, WWF India. “The ‘green road’ concept has been highly successful in the West,” he says.
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