Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sariska Tiger Reserve vetoes road conversion proposal

Sariska Tiger Reserve vetoes road conversion proposal

4 Sep 2008, 0541 hrs IST, Anindo Dey,TNN

JAIPUR: The empowered committee of Supreme Court for Sariska Tiger Reserve has recommended converting parts of state highway no 13, connecting Thanagazi and Sariska in Alwar district as well as state highway 29A, linking Sariska to Tehla and Pandupole, as forest roads.

Currently, they are under the jurisdiction of the public works department (PWD).

Both the roads have been in controversy in recent times after forest authorities began efforts to reestablish a tiger populace at Sariska. While the former road skirts the tiger reserve, the latter passes right through it.

However, the heavy traffic plying on both the roads is being seen as a deterrent to re-establishing tigers at the reserve with threats of pollution and poaching looming large over it.

"We had given a proposal to the empowered committee in this regard. We have learnt that the committee has vetoed our report. However, we will have to wait till it comes through from the apex court itself as on order," sources said.

The proposal had suggested that parts of SH-13, including the stretch from Bharatri crossing to Sariska, and that connecting Sa-riska and Tehla and Pandupole be turned into forest roads.

"The proposal would not affect the daily commuters much but en-sure that the movement of long distance buses and trucks is restricted. Movement of traffic would also be restricted on Sariska-Tehla and Pandupole road that see hundreds of devotees passing through the reserve to reach the temple, especially on Saturdays and Tuesdays," they explained.

About 2,000 vehicles ply through SH-13 daily honking and shooing away neelgais, spotted deers or monkeys coming their way.

Incidents of run over of wild animals have also been reported in the past. In fact, SH-29 A linking Sariska to Tehla passes right through tiger reserve giving way to not only a populace of about 12,000 people and 35,000 cattle of the 28 villages situated inside the park, 11 of which are in its core area, but also to many an overcrowded state roadways buses. On Saturdays and Tuesdays, considered pious, more than 700 vehicles ply on this road.

Forest officials said that after the SC ratifies the proposal, the right of way on the Sariska-Pandupole-Tehla road for private vehicles and buses would be stopped.
"We have started a move where in convoys of vehicles of devotees are being escorted from the gateway of the reserve to the temple. We would not only make this a rule but also introduce battery-operated vehicles for a shuttle service for the devotees," they added.

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