HYDERABAD: The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has given clearance to laying of a third broad gauge railway line by the South Central Railway (SCR) through the tiger corridor area in Kaghaznagar forest division connecting three tiger reserves —Kawal in Telangana, Tadoba in Maharashtra and Indravathi in Chhattisgarh. However, proactive measures by the Telangana Forest Department has helped in limiting the destruction to the tiger reserve due to the railway project.
The SCR had originally proposed cutting down of trees across a massive area of 189 hectares in the tiger corridor. The Telangana Forest Department later conducted a survey and pointed out that the area required would be much lesser. Finally, the Telangana State Board for Wildlife recommended clearance for only 21 hectares.
The NBWL meeting was held online on April 7 and was chaired by Union Minister of Environment and Forests, Prakash Javadekar, who later Tweeted about the clearance being accorded to the project.
Speaking to Express, Telangana PCCF R Sobha said, “They (SCR) wanted the entire proposed forest area thinking that if they take clearance now, they need not ask for permission to take up other work in future, but that is not how it works.” Sobha further said at the NBWL meeting, the Forest Department official explained the process undertaken to assess and decrease the required forest area by the SCR, which was appreciated by Javadekar, who advised forest officials of other States also to follow similar practice.
The NBWL clearance for the project comes with a slew of conditions, including construction of cross-over tunnels for animals, widening and extension of existing bridges, payment of Rs 15 lakh for the vulture conservation programme in Kaghaznagar etc. The National Tiger Conservation Authority has laid down the condition that the SCR should purchase private lands located amid fragmented forest areas and give it to the Forest Department.