Environmental concerns raised over missing sensor camera, construction in Kaziranga National Park | India News

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GUWAHATI: Environmentalists are raising alarms over missing sensor camera and ongoing construction work on the national highway cutting through Kaziranga National Park. They are concerned that during flood season such activities could hinder and put at risk the movement of wildlife heading towards the highlands, as animals often cross this highway.
In a letter to the Assam chief secretary on Monday, RTI and environment activist Rohit Choudhury highlighted the disruption of animal movement in the Haldhibari wildlife corridor of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR).He noted that the construction of a concrete road has been causing heavy traffic jams, obstructing animal movement.
“The Haldhibari Animal Corridor is the most crucial among the nine notified animal corridors in KNPTR,” Choudhury explained.
Currently, the upgradation and expansion of NH-37 is in progress in the Haldhibari Corridor, coinciding with the start of the flood season. “The transformation involves converting the metal-based road into an RCC-based one and widening the highway by 6-7 feet on each side. This work has led to the gravelling of road margins, which has destroyed the grass cover that herbivores rely on for grazing during the flood season,” he alleged.
Sources indicate that the entire stretch of NH-37 within the Haldhibari Corridor will take at least four months to complete.” Presently, heavy traffic congestion is a common sight in these stretches, with vehicles lined up 24X7, leaving no room for wild animals to cross the road.
Choudhury accused the department of failing to comply with the directives of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). According to the NGT, there should be a right of way for wildlife in the corridors.
In another letter to the union forest ministry earlier this month, Choudhury pointed out the issues caused by erecting concrete and metal posts for cable fencing, installing fender barriers, and laying paver blocks on road margins near Burapahar. These activities have completely disrupted the movement of wild animals across NH-37.
“Added to this, glaring solar flood-lights have been installed at many places along the NH which confuse and disorient the wildlife crossing the NH, especially nocturnal animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger. Installation of solar lights in fact has compounded the effects of vehicular traffic plying with high-beam headlights, and is sure to have adverse effects on animal behavior,” he added.
Previously, the National Green Tribunal mandated the installation of speed-sensing cameras in the wildlife corridors of KNPTR. Vehicles traveling above 40 km/hour on this stretch were to be penalized.
Following the directive, KNPTR authorities installed six speed-sensing cameras equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognizing (ANPR) Radar in the designated animal corridors. “Since their installation, these cameras have been functioning only intermittently, about which I pointed out earlier. The seventh speed-sensing camera installed in 2017 at Maloni, falling under Kaliabor Sub-division in Nagaon District on the National Highway-37 in the designated wildlife corridor opposite Burapahar Tea Estate, went missing in 2021 and was not re-installed again for unknown reasons,” Choudhury stated in another letter to the chief secretary on June 8.
He emphasized that the absence of the seventh camera has turned the prime wildlife corridor into a high-risk zone for wild animals due to speeding vehicles.
“As it is now flood season, animals from Kaziranga National Park & Tiger Reserve are seeking higher ground and have started migrating towards the Karbi Hills, crossing NH-37. Recently, visuals of these animals crossing towards Karbi Anglong Hills from the park have been circulating in the media. The current situation demands urgent attention and solutions to ensure the safety and free movement of wildlife within these critical corridors,” Choudhury said.

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