Jumbo movement in B'ghatta halts STRR demarcation work

Activists say the Satellite Town Ring Road will bring more traffic to the sensitive area and increase man-animal conflict. DH FILE PHOTO

The threat posed to wildlife by the Satellite Township Ring Road (STRR) inside the Bannerghatta National Park has been highlighted in a letter by NHAI officials, who wrote to forest officials that the frequent movement of elephants had disrupted demarcation work.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has sought diversion of 3.79 km of forest land in the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) to build the elevated STRR corridor in the forest area. NHAI officials said they completed demarcation of 1.75 km along the existing road but could not go beyond.

“The work got held up due to frequent elephant movement in the nearby corridor since 2.02.2019. It was advised by the forest department that the work can only be recommenced after the confirmation from the forest department considering the safety aspect,” the NHAI project director wrote to the range forest officer.

Activists have opposed the project, noting that a bigger road will only bring more traffic to the sensitive forest area, where encroachment and development activities have already led to a spike in the man-animal conflict.

However, an NHAI official told DH that the project would have a minimum impact on BNP. “The elevated corridor will have a 5% slope towards the centre, and both ends of the road will have a noise barrier, fixed to the crash barriers,” he said.

A forest official noted that disturbance created by vehicles on the elevated corridor was secondary. “The main concern is the problem caused to wildlife during the construction stage. Even going by the most optimistic outlook, it will take nearly a year to build the 4-km long elevated section. Hopefully, the NHAI may come up with a good
strategy to avoid this problem,” he said.

The DPR had stated that 150 to 200 trees would be felled per kilometre of the STRR. But NHAI officials said precise numbers would be known in near future.

“So far, we have completed the first stage of the assessment. The final stage will be taken up within the next few days, and the details will be out soon,” said Director General Manager (Technical) and Project Director H S Lingegowda. 

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