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Wildlife friendly road planned through Kaziranga

GUWAHATI, Jan 7 - The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun has approved the pre-feasibility report of the wildlife-friendly road to be built on the national highway stretch passing through Kaziranga National Park, but the Centre has asked the State government to revisit the Rs 2,500-crore proposal and see if the budget can be trimmed or if the execution can be done in phases.

Government sources said the Dehradun-based WII has cleared the pre-feasibility report with some observations and suggestions.

“The project was presented before the Union Road Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari. He asked the State government to see if the budget can be trimmed or the execution of the project done phase wise. Officials of the PWD and forest department will soon hold a meeting to take a call on the Union minister’s request,” the sources said.

Mumbai-based Wadia Techno-Engineering Services Limited is doing the consultancy work for preparation of the DPR of the project.

According to the proposal, there will be three flyovers – from Rangalu to Deopani (19.93 km), Harmoti to Hatikhuli (13.440 km) and one at Panbari (5.9 km).

“Besides, there will be two arboreal crossings for primates to cross the road. Burhapahar will be bypassed through a 2.5-km road along the southern side of the hill. There will be two animal overpasses, each of about 200 metres in length, on this stretch,” PWD executive engineer Shantanoo Bhattacharyya told this newspaper.

The three flyovers will have solar lighting system and green vegetative fences to absorb noise, besides acting as vehicular headlight diffusers. Concrete slabs (thermoregulation) will be made for snakes to rest on both sides of the road so that they do not come to the road in search of sunlight.

“A similar project was undertaken at Rajaji National Park of Dehradun. But small length flyovers were built there, and the intended result was not achieved as the animals changed their routes and did not use the animal underpasses. That is why we are going for long flyovers by clubbing the corridors. Originally, there were six identified animal corridors along the highway passing through Kaziranga. But the forest department has modified it to eleven,” Bhattacharyya said.

The project also includes a component to develop the Kanchanguri viewpoint, with a four-lane road to accommodate parking lots and watch towers for visitors.

“We will use pre-fab and pre-cast materials and there will be no work after sunset so that the disturbance caused to the park inmates in minimum,” Bhattacharyya said.

While the draft DPR, which has to be approved by the National Board for Wildlife, is expected to be completed in about two months’ time, the PWD hopes to begin work on the project by this year-end subject to sanction by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

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