Govt scraps Nagarahole road plan

Environmentalists opposed the project in view of the heavy toll of wildlife


The State Government has reluctantly given up the road project in the interest of wildlife.
The Public Works Department (PWD) has dropped its project to upgrade a 10 km-stretch between Dammanakatte and Udburu of State Highway 17 D (Mysore -Mananthavadi road inside the Rajiv Gandhi National Park) as part of the Kship-I (Karnataka State Highway Improvement Project) following direction of the Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) constituted by the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court.

“We have dropped the project as per the recommendations of the PMC. That 10-km stretch (inside the national park) will be left as it is,” Kship Project Director Krishna Reddy told Deccan Herald. The development of an alternate route would be taken up under a different project.

Principal Secretary to the department of Forest Ecology and Environment Meera Saksena who heads the PMC said the 10-km stretch was very important for wildlife.

“There are hundreds of schedule 1 animals like tigers and bison in Nagarahole. The animals are getting killed due to heavy traffic on this stretch. Development of this stretch only means more traffic and, in turn, more killing of wild animals. Hence, the PMC asked the PWD to drop its plans. This stretch will be left as it is to discourage vehicle owners from taking this route,” she explained.

The Mysore-Mananthavadi State Highway is similar to Gundlupet-Wayanad National Highway as far as damage and disturbance to wildlife are concerned.

Countless animals are being crushed under speeding vehicles, mainly trucks, on this route. Therefore, environmentalists opposed the road development project tooth and nail.

Alternative route

Instead of the road inside the park, the PMC had recommended an alternative stretch passing through Dammanakatte, Hosaholalu, K R Pura, Magge, Malali, N Belthur, Kharapura, Gundattur and Udburu villages outside the National park. This stretch is three km more than the original alignment.

The PMC wanted the PWD to take up development of this road under the Kship-I but the PWD has refused to comply, citing delay in the project completion. “The Kship-I is already delayed. We are now closing the entire project,” Krishna Reddy said.

Because of the controversy surrounding this stretch, completion of the entire Kship-I project has been delayed. A Rs 2,390-crore project aimed at developing 2,395 km of road, it was supposed to have been completed in 2006.

The World Bank-funded project was taken up in 2001. Recently, the Cabinet gave its nod for extending the completion time till July 2010.

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