Flyover at Kaziranga to cut down vehicular threat to wild animals

Hindustan Times, Guwahati | By
Sep 07, 2019 09:34 AM IST

This year, 17 animals, mainly deer, were killed by speeding vehicles while crossing the highway in Kaziranga. The flyover is expected to reduce animal fatalities.

In a bid to protect wild animals including the endangered one-horned rhinos from being hit by vehicles, the Centre is planning to construct a flyover over National Highway 37 (NH 37) that passes through Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

A herd of wild elephants crossing National Highway 37 at Kaziranga in Assam.(HT PHOTO)
A herd of wild elephants crossing National Highway 37 at Kaziranga in Assam.(HT PHOTO)

At 35 km in length, the flyover will have three segments, the first segment which will be around 18 km in length will be the longest in India — more than the length of the PVNR Express Highway in Hyderabad, which is 11.6 km long.

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“The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is preparing the detailed project report (DPR) at present and the total cost of the flyover, which will be 11 metres wide, is expected to be around 2,600 crore,” Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya said.

The minister said the work on the DPR is expected to be over within the next two months. Once that is done, the tender process would begin and work on the project is expected to start from next year.

“The NH 37 is also an animal corridor and used by small and big animals including elephants and rhinos. The main purpose for constructing the flyover is to protect the animals from being hit by vehicles while they cross the highway,” Suklabaidya said.

Kaziranga, the biggest habitat of one-horned rhinos, gets submerged every year during monsoon and its inhabitants flee to higher ground in neighbouring Karbi Anglong district by crossing NH 37.

While 200 wild animals including 18 rhinos were killed in the park due to flooding this year, 17 other animals, mainly deer, were killed by speeding vehicles while crossing the highway.

“The alignment of the flyover was prepared recently by Wildlife Institute of India. The first segment of the flyover, divided into three segments, will be the longest at 18 km,” P Sivakumar, director of Kaziranga National Park informed.

While the existing highway will continue to be used for access to the park and various resorts near it, the flyover will be for those who don’t want to halt at Kaziranga.

The minister informed that the project is being planned in coordination with the National Green Tribunal, various other wildlife authorities and the Assam government.

“Construction of the flyover is good news. There is no option of diverting the highway and the flyover is a nice option. It’s a win-win for both motorists, as they don’t have to stop or slow down, and for the wild animals,” said wildlife activist Rohit Choudhury.

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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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