Report confirms PWD lapses in Kali sanctuary

Report confirms PWD lapses in Kali sanctuary

The Kali Tiger Reserve

The Public Works Department (PWD) is in the dock for executing infrastructure projects in the protected Kali Tiger Reserve in Uttara Kannada district.

A high-level enquiry committee appointed by the Karnataka Forest Department to probe into irregularities inside the tiger reserve has not only confirmed the facts reported by DH on November 21, 2018, but also held the PWD department responsible for violating several rules under the Wildlife Act and National Tiger Conservatory Authority (NTCA) guidelines.

Based on documents accessed under the RTI, DH had reported that PWD officials had executed more than 10 linear projects, including widening of roads, construction of bridges and culverts in the eco-sensitive zones of the Kali Tiger Reserve.

Following the DH report, the vigilance wing of the Forest Department had directed the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Forest Mobile Squad, Sirsi, in Canara Circle to probe into the allegations. The vigilance team visited all the project sites and submitted a report confirming the lapses.

The inquiry report, a copy of which is available with DH, revealed that the PWD department had erred while executing 10 linear projects.

“As reported by DH, the PWD department had sanctioned works like widening and repair of roads inside the Kali Tiger Reserve,” the report submitted to the APCCF (Vigilance) stated. “Further, the local Range Forest Officer had also written to the user agency (PWD) to seek permission from National Board for Wildlife, State Wildlife Board, NTCA and Chief Wildlife Warden before commencing the sanctioned work. However, the user agencies with haughty disregard to the rules and instructions had gone ahead with the works. At several places, the RFO and his team have stopped the work and warned them of stringent action under the Wildlife Act.”

The inquiry committee, during the inspection, found that the PWD contractors, while executing these works, had caused immense damage to the trees and plants in the vicinity besides illegally digging in forest areas.

“During the inquiry, it was found that development and repair of roads along with construction of bridges found to be violating various clauses under the Wildlife Protection Act. Further, none of the projects that were being executed within the reserve had permission from the National Board for Wildlife,” the inquiry report said.

The PWD projects that violated the rules include the development of Shivapura Panchalingeshwara temple road, development of Ulavi Panchalingeshwara Road, work on the road towards the birthplace of Kali river, construction of a bridge on Ulavi-Goa border road, development of bridge near Ganasoli, repair of Dokrappa Ghat Road, Terali-Patagudi road.

According to the report, the violations have been reported from Kumbarawada, Castle Rock and Anshi wildlife ranges of the Kali Tiger Reserve.