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Highway through park being upgraded in violation of orders

Staff Reporter

Bangalore: The contentious stretch of State Highway 17-D, which passes through the ecologically sensitive Nagarhole National Park, is being upgraded without adhering to guidelines set by the Supreme Court’s central empowered committee (CEC).

According to highly placed sources, repair and upgradation began on Thursday on a 30-km stretch of the highway which is located at an important wildlife migration corridor between Nagarhole and Bandipur.

The stretch (Mysore-Mananthavadi road) is being developed by the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project (KSHIP) with financial assistance from the World Bank.

“The Karnataka Forest Department has granted permission to KSHIP even though the Supreme Court has clearly stated that no work can begin without adhering to the recommendations of committee,” said the source.

In an order dated November 19, 2008, the Supreme Court stated that roadworks on this stretch of the highway could only be taken up if they adhered to panel’s recommendations.

The detailed recommendations included the constitution of a local “monitoring committee” headed by the Principal Secretary (Forests) to monitor the roadwork through regular field inspection. It had also recommended several “mitigation measures” to control traffic such as road humps and major culverts that act as an underpass for wildlife.

“The monitoring committee — if it has been formed at all — has not had a single field inspection. Also mitigation measures can only decided upon by wildlife experts, who know wildlife behaviour, and not by engineers implementing this project,” said the source. I.B. Srivastav, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), told The Hindu that while the monitoring committee was constituted a month ago, it had not yet met.

He added that he had asked the Hunsur DFO to inspect the roadworks.

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