The Uttarakhand and Union governments have decided to open a new gate to the Corbett Tiger Reserve through Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal
Experts have welcomed the Uttarakhand government’s announcement to grant access to the Corbett Tiger Reserve through a new gate near Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal district. But, they say the route should be managed properly to protect the area’s environment.
“This route was already open for locals commuting between Kotdwar and Ramnagar. It will relieve the pressure on the currently used Ramnagar route,” Rajeev Talwar, Wildlife Warden of Rajaji National Park, also in Uttarakhand, told Down To Earth (DTE).
The state, however, should strictly monitor the route and tourists should behave themselves while traversing it, added Talwar.
At the moment, Corbett has six entry gates. These lie in the Bijrani, Jhirna, Dhela, Durga Devi, Sultan and Dhikala zones of the park, all of which are in the Kumaon division of Uttarakhand. Till now, tourists, especially from Delhi and the National Capital Region could travel to the park only via the town of Ramnagar. Due to this, Ramnagar, in peak season, is very overcrowded and tourists have to wait for several hours for their turn to enter the park.
On February 11, 2019, Uttarakhand’s Minister of Environment and Forests Harak Singh Rawat said that a new route would soon be available to tourists going to Corbett through Pakharo gate at Kotdwar as the Union government had given its permission.
The distance between Corbett and Delhi via Ramnagar is 280 km. In contrast, the distance between the two places through Pakharo is a little over 200 km.
“It is a welcome development. The people of Kotdwar will get employment in addition to the easing of pressure on the Ramnagar route. Facilitating people’s access to forests and protected areas is the best way to ensure their survival as with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility,” Rajeev Mehta, former honorary wildlife warden of Rajaji told DTE.
However, like Talwar, Mehta too agreed that the upkeep and management of the route was very important.
“It is essential to know the technical carrying capacity of vehicles in any Protected Area. This can be calculated by institutions like the Wildlife Institute of India and the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Once such a figure has been reached for this route, only those many vehicles should be allowed to traverse on it. If that happens, there would be no overload on the forest,” he says.
Mehta also suggests other measures. “Tourists should know that it is important not to throw litter, whether inside or outside the Protected Area. Since a large number of wild species in India are found outside Protected Areas in India, the administration can build overpasses for animals on known wildlife corridors crossing this route,” he says.
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