Wildlife & Biodiversity

About 400 proposed infrastructure projects will destroy tiger corridors: report

Wildlife Conservation Trust recommends measures to achieve a win-win solution for development and wildlife

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Monday 06 August 2018
Tiger corridor
Central Indian and Eastern Ghats tiger landscape is home to about 688 tigers. Credit: Sunita Narain Central Indian and Eastern Ghats tiger landscape is home to about 688 tigers. Credit: Sunita Narain

Expansion of linear infrastructure like roads, railways and power lines in Central Indian and Eastern Ghats tiger landscape is fragmenting natural landscapes and severing wildlife corridors, according to a new report on tiger connectivity by the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT).

The WCT analysed 399 out of 1697 proposals for linear infrastructure submitted to the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) post-July 2014. “In an overwhelming number of cases—345 (86 per cent)—the user agency has denied the requirement of ‘wildlife clearance’,” observes the report.

The total cost of the 399 identified projects is approximately Rs 130,000 crore. With nearly 86 per cent of the total project proposals awaiting clearance, this is an opportunity to “incorporate mitigation structures so as to achieve a win-win solution for both development and wildlife," according to WCT.

States

Road

Rail

Irrigation

Maharashtra

18,393

4,323

2,420

Madhya Pradesh

8,076

3,396

18,703

Chhattisgarh

4,844

14,441

2,266

Jharkhand

1,479

10,757

2,268

Odisha

7,037

4,846

1,073

Telangana

1,297

0

16,390

Andhra Pradesh

2,232

1,313

1,821

Rajasthan

3,366

0

0

Total

46,724

39,078

44,941

Project cost (Rs crore)

"The identification of specific projects (which are likely to be executed over the next few years) in this report would serve as a baseline for the National Board for Wildlife (NWBL) to decide on the magnitude of mitigation measures while considering proposals for diversion of forest land,” the report observes.

The WCT recommends that the government should seriously consider spending a small fraction of the money (Rs 130,000 crore) on mitigation measures. If such measures are put in place, litigations and ensuing project delays will not escalate the cost of the project and thus, not cause a huge loss to the national exchequer.

Pan-India problem

  • Expansion of National Highway 44 into four-lane divided carriageway ignored the fact that the road cut through the Kanha-Satpura corridor.
  • Expansion of National Highway 6 into four-lane highway cut the Kanha-Nawegaon-Tadoba-Indravati corridor
  • The main railway line from New Delhi to Chennai passes through seven wildlife corridors.
  • Expansion of Nagpur-Chhindwara railway line passes though Pench-Satpura corridor

Importance of Central Indian and Eastern Ghats tiger landscape

Spread over eight states—Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana—this tiger landscape hosts 23 tiger reserves and about 46 other protected areas with tiger presence. They are home to about 31 per cent (688) of the country’s total tiger population, which is estimated to be 2,226. 

Illustrious tiger reserves such as Kanha, Ranthambhore, Palamau and Simlipal are located in this second-largest tiger landscape in India with multiple corridors between most of the protected areas.

Currently, the Central Indian tiger population has the highest genetic diversity in the world. However, a recent study on impact of linear infrastructure on tiger connectivity predicts a 50 per cent loss in genetic diversity in a business-as-usual scenario.

In fact, previous studies had also affirmed that tiger movement has been negatively impacted by human settlements within the Central Indian and Eastern Ghats tiger landscape.

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