NGOs and conservationists have objected to the doubling and electrification of Katni-Singrauli railway line which passes through the Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
According to them, the existing railway line has already killed a tigress and several wild animals.
They have written to the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister, with copies to the Minister of Railways and Madhya Pradesh government. The signatories include Bombay Natural History Society, Satpuda Foundation, The Corbett Foundation, Conservation Action Trust, Sanctuary Nature Foundation, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust, BAAVAN and Nature Conservation Society Amravati and wildlife conservationists such as Dr M K Ranjitsinh, Dr A J T Johnsingh, Dr. Raghu Chundawat, Dr Asad Rahmani, Dr Divyabhanusinh Chavda, Nirmal Ghosh and Dr. Naveen Pandey.
The 27.5 km stretch of existing railway line connecting Katni to Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh passes through the 67-hectare area of ‘critical tiger habitat’ of Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve and the 5.3 ha of dense forest areas of Sidhi district adjoining SDTR.
Before entering the SDTR, the railway line already through the identified wildlife corridor in Shahdol district, between Bandhavgarh and Sanjay-Dubri tiger reserves, that has high presence of tigers, leopards, striped hyenas, sloth bears, Asiatic wild cats, jungle cats, sambars, spotted deers, and many other species of mammals. In the recent past, wild elephants have traversed to Bandhavgarh-Sanjay-Dubri Landscape and have established a few smaller populations in the corridor and both these tiger reserves.
“The proposed expansion (doubling and electrification) of this railway line would not only split the SDTR landscape but disconnect all the above-mentioned conservation areas from each other, and may slaughter wild animals thus an impediment for the long-term conservation of tiger, elephant and many other species,” the letter states.
Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve (SDTR) is situated in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh and spread over an area of 1,674.511 sq.km. This includes the Sanjay National Park and Dubri Wildlife Sanctuary as the core or critical tiger habitat (812.581 sq.km.) and the forested areas of Sidhi and Shahdol districts as the buffer zone (861.930 sq.km.). SDTR is connected through forest corridors in Shahdol district with Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve to the west and borders the Guru Ghasidas National Park in Chhattisgarh to the south. Bandhavgarh-SDTR-Guru Ghasidas landscape together constitutes 3,607 sq.km. and harbours 141 (126-156) tigers.
This landscape is also connected with Palamau Tiger Reserve in Jharkhand and has the potential to accommodate the increasing tiger population of Central India.
Scientific investigation has established that the tigers from Central India have high genetic diversity which is mainly due to the functionality of the existing wildlife corridors.