Earlier this year, an expert panel had recommended construction of elevated roads to control animal deaths due to accidents
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the Assam government to restrict traffic on the National Highway 37 (NH37), which acts as a boundary to the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve. The order to curb traffic between 5 am to 7 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm every day was issued on Thursday in response to a petition filed by Right to Information (RTI) activist Rohit Choudhury who had pointed out that NH37 had become a dangerous passage for animals who frequently get hit by vehicles while crossing the road.
Kaziranga is home to the world-famous One-horned Rhino and several other wildlife species, including the tiger. Animals cross NH37 regularly to move between Kaziranga and the adjacent Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve, which lies to the south of the tiger reserve. RTI applications filed by Choudhury revealed that vehicular accidents on the highway have caused more than 250 animal deaths between 2003 and 2013.
Earlier this year, an expert committee constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, on the orders of the NGT, had recommended construction of elevated roads at the identified animal crossing points on the highway. NGT has now asked the state government to give its comments on the expert committee's recommendations and give a time frame to implement them.
The tribunal has also ordered the state government to implement a slew of measures to restrict traffic on the highway immediately. “We direct that no traffic be permitted on the six sections used by the animals as corridors for going from one sector to another during peak animal activity hours,” said the tribunal. It asked the state to fix cameras on those six crossing points to ensure that the vehicles passing through that area do not exceed the prescribed speed limit of 40 km per hour.
Further, the green tribunal has also directed the state government to immediately release funds, already provided by the Centre for protection and improvement of Kaziranga park. NGT will hear the case next on March 26.
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