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Panel of the Supreme Court says Uttarakhand tiger reserve road can’t be used for commercial traffic

Underlining that the “conservation priority of the forest area far outweighs the commercial transport needs of the state government”, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court has advised against blacktopping a 4.7-km stretch of a critical forest road near Rajaji tiger reserve in Uttarakhand, The Deccan Era reports.

Laldhang-Chillarkhal forest road runs along a high-priority wildlife corridor between Rajaji and Corbett tiger landscapes, a segment of the old Kandi road that once connected Haridwar and Ramnagar. Since the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP has been pushing for an all-weather blacktop road.

The CEC report, submitted to the Supreme Court last week, is learnt to have highlighted that the corridor is extensively used by long-ranging animals, such as elephants and tigers — and if it’s not kept as a forest road, it’s going to hurt wildlife connectivity that Kotdwar, agriculture, and human habitation already threaten.

There are a few key recommendations from the panel:

*This 11-km road should only be blacktopped for the first and last 3 km.

*During the construction phase, all elevated structures and large bridges over streams should be replaced with causeways to avoid bringing a lot of concrete into the forest.

* Night traffic should be banned (7 pm to 7 am), and speed limits should be 30km/h.

*Since there’s a better road between Kotdwar and Haridwar (NH-74), it’s better to discourage heavy commercial vehicles from using this forest road.

As reported in March 2019, Uttarakhand’s Public Works Department transferred two segments of the forest road without getting clearance from the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), violating 1972’s Wildlife (Protection) Act.

The CEC filed two reports, and the Supreme Court ordered the state to withdraw the land transfer orders, stop road work, and get statutory wildlife clearances from the Environment Ministry.

In December 2019, the NBWL cleared the road conditional on providing a 705-m long and 8-m high underpass for elephants and other wildlife on the 4.7-km central stretch.

The state government pushed for a 400-m long and 6-m high underpass, so the NBWL changed it in June 2021.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the CEC could approach the court if it weren’t satisfied with the NBWL’s decision. An apex court petition was filed while the CEC examined the NBWL’s recommendation on the Laidhang-Chillarkhal forest road.

A site visit and stakeholder discussions led to the CEC’s latest report.


Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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