MADURAI: In a bid to prevent animal fatalities and human-animal conflict along the Vadipatti-Thamaraipatti Highway, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has proposed the construction of an 'animal pass-overbridge' at Wavuthamalai reserve forest range, which borders Madurai and Dindigul.
This could be a first-of-its-kind construction in Tamil Nadu and a proposal recently sent to the State forest department noted that the bridge would significantly reduce the number of animals struck by vehicles on the highway.
Wavuthamalai forest comprises Alagar Kovil hills, Kiluvamalai near Natham, and Perumal Malai in Usilampatti. While big cats and elephants are not spotted here, a large number of hares, bisons, jackals, boars, and snakes are found in the region.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, an NHAI official said a survey has been done for building the bridge and the estimated project cost is Rs 12 crore. "The proposal is expected to receive clearance within a week. About 210 metres of the 29.9-km long Vadipatti-Thamaraipatti NHAI ring road in Dindigul falls under this reserve forest. The proposed bridge will have 'pucca' fencing, and a natural environment, containing soil, trees and grass, will be created on top of the bridge. The construction is expected to be over within the next six months," he added.
District Forest Officer D Guruswamy Dabbala said the bridge would be a sustainable model of development for mitigating conflicts arising due to the passage of animals. "Along the overpass, a small 2.5-metre opening will be provided for letting smaller animals pass under the bridge. Olfactory, noise and light barriers, fencing, and signage provisions are included in the project. The forest department will also set up water ponds and other facilities for animals," he noted.