BENGALURU: Although wildlife activists are raising serious objections to the project proposal for upgradation of Harohalli-Anekal Road in the elephant corridor area of Bannerghatta, forest officials say that no such permission has been given. In fact, in the last few meetings, forest officials have advised highway officials to either to go in for an alternative road or tunnelling or build an overpass.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Bannerghatta National Park Deputy Conservator of Forests Javed Mumtaz said, “The Harohalli-Anekal project is still in the nascent stage and the proposal is still in the discussion stages. Even the DPR has not been prepared. So, where is the question of sanction or permission from the National Board of Wildlife? This is an elephant corridor area and at any given time herds of elephants are sighted where they cross, rest and move around for days together.”
Under Phase 1 of the upgradation project, Dobbespet to Magadi Road has been completed. But Phase 2 includes Harohalli-Anekal Highway which is a part of a significant wildlife corridor area. So any upgradation or four-laning will cause serious disturbance to elephants, leopards and other animals. Till date, the state forest department and the state highway officials have held three to four meetings on the upgradation issue with forest officials mooting alternatives.
Criticising the upgradation project, urban conservationist and Tree Committee member Vijay Nishanth said, “A road connecting Harohalli and Anekal has already been cut through the elephant corridor and it has now been proposed to make it a four-lane road without permission from the statutory body - National Board of Wildlife or its Standing Committee.
As it is, movement of vehicles carrying granite on this road has caused serious disturbance to jumbos while the arising quarrying dust has affected many villages where villagers have been protesting for years. If this project is taken up, it will be a serious blow to the elephant conservation project and it may lead to man-elephant conflict situation in the surrounding villages.”
However, the DCF clarified, “We have made our stand clear (the highway officials) and they have to get back to us with a new proposal. It is surprising how people are talking about work order having been given when no DPR has been prepared. The project proposal is still at the discussion stage.”
In fact, in Jaipur Metro rail project, an overpass of 4.6km was agreed upon to protect the wildlife, the DCF added. “With availability of modern equipment and machines, the tunnelling work can be done in six to eight months,” he said.