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Infra projects around Mumbai’s national park to get nod if they build animal passageways

The Railways will build one overpass and an underpass in return for the approval they received to construct a railway line in the area

mumbai Updated: Mar 14, 2018 10:02 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Forest officials inspect the body of a leopard, who was killed after being hit by a vehicle on Ghodbunder Road on October 1, 2017.(Praful Gangurde)

One animal overpass has been planned near Shilottar village and an underpass near Nagla village, 2km between the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS). The Railways will build both these passageways in return for the approval they received to construct a railway line in the area.

“We approved a proposal from the Central Railway (CR) regarding construction of a railway line in the area. CR has made a commitment to us that they will develop these passageways. Camera trap images from the area have revealed the presence of two to three adult leopards in this area,” said Kalpana Temgire, assistant conservator of forest, SGNP and in-charge of the project, adding that if the Railways fails to construct the passageways, SGNP will build them in a year’s time.

Two other underpasses have been planned on the Western Express Highway (WEH), which connects the National Highway (NH) 8 near Kolhi village on the boundary of TWS and the Thane territorial forest. Another underpass will be constructed near Chinchoti village further down the same highway, where the forest department has recorded animal road kills.

“At all these locations, existing culverts or nullahs, which have dried up, will be converted into underpasses. This will be completed by May this year,” said Temgire.

The last overpass will be developed one-and-half kilometre away from Sativali village along NH8 between two hills. “We are expecting a central government proposal in this area, and the overpass is a condition during construction. This is at the border of TWS and Thane territorial forests, and is expected to be ready within a year,” said Temgire.

Anwar said all upcoming projects around the national park will only be approved with the condition to construct animal passageways. “This is a long standing issue where we have been losing our wildlife as a result of imbalance between development and conservation. However, such incidents will now be controlled. We are also discussing these issues with the traffic department to introduce speed control measures such as breakers to reduce the speed of oncoming vehicles and installation of signboards,” said Anwar Ahmed, chief conservator of forest, SGNP.

Wildlife biologists welcomed the move, but said accident prone areas such as the Thane-Ghodbunder Road and road along Ghodbunder village also need to be included. “This is a nice and timely initiative, but there is dire need to have animal passageways connecting the two parts of SGNP broken by the Ghodbunder road, which has seen a spurt of incidents over the past decade,” said Vidya Athreya, wildlife biologist.

Anwar said SGNP was expecting another proposal for Ghodbunder Road, where an overpass will be proposed, but it is still in the planning stages.

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 10:02 IST