Wildlife corridor not on priority list of Chandigarh administration
Though campaigning for declaration of an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) for wildlife around Sukhna by Punjab and Haryana, the UT administration has yet to implement the provisions of its own Chandigarh Master Plan (CMP)-2031, mandating a wildlife corridor connecting the lake reserve forest and wildlife sanctuary.
The corridor plan has been virtually abandoned though the administration had approved acquisition of 450 acres in Kaimbwala village for it in 2005 and acquired 50 acres in 2011.
An afforestation drive on agricultural land separating the two forests by the administration is required to create the safe passage of 1.4 km for wildlife between the reserve forest area and the regulator end of the Sukhna Lake.
Of the 50 acres acquired in Kaimbwala village, the forest department has carried out thematic plantation of fruit bearing tree species on about 48 acres. The remaining two-acre area has some vegetation which is being maintained as such.
The administration has already notified a 2 to 2.75km radius around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary as an ESZ.
NEED FOR A CORRIDOR
The lake reserve forest and wildlife sanctuary are separated by agricultural land. According to CMP 2031, the growing wildlife population in the sanctuary has often resulted in animals straying into nearby settlements in Kishangarh and Khuda Ali Sher in the UT and in Kansal in Punjab, leading to a number of causalities.
“Free movement of wildlife is needed for their growth and diversity of species. Currently, the wildlife movement between the sanctuary and lake forest is disrupted by human settlements. This is dangerous for both animals and humans,” says Rima Dhillon, who works for wildlife protection and is secretary, Chandigarh Bird Club.
Currently, wildlife is being contained in isolated pockets in the sanctuary, lake forest and the Nagarvan (city forest). “While the lake forest and Nagarvan are connected, there is also a need to connect these with the sanctuary. Animals need to move with seasons, and for water, breeding and shelter. New species can also be introduced in the forests,” says MS Sekhon, member, Sukhna Lake forest and Nagarvan development advisory committee.
Delays have resulted in encroachments eating into the proposed corridor area. If it’s finalised now “the corridor would have to be moved to further away from the proposed site as constructions such as farmhouses and buildings have come up,” adds Sekhon.
Confirming that the project had not been shelved, Debendra Dalai, director, environment, however, admitted that huge funds were required for acquiring land, including a special grant from the Central government. “We are considering developing the corridor in smaller chunks.”