The Forest Department has embarked on the task of improving roads within Reserve Forests (RF) across the State with a view to providing linkages between remote villages on the fringes. The project also includes works on strengthening connectivity of roads running through the RFs in order to make them motorable.
The Office of the Forest Engineering Division based in Tiruchi is executing the road improvement works that are to be implemented under the 12th Finance Commission, Intensified Forest Management, Tribal Welfare, Part I, Part II and Bharat Nirman schemes. Road improvement works to the extent of 93.89 kilometres are to be covered in the current fiscal at an expenditure of Rs. 13.19 crore.
In Tiruchi district, the 3.3 km road inside Veeramachampatti RF will be improved to connect Kaveripatti and Kallikudi villages. Likewise, a distance of 2.2 km inside the Sorubham RF in the district will improve connectivity between Kanuthu and Pillayarnatham.
Similarly, in Erode district, the works will be taken up from Thamaraikarai to Devarmalai (8 km); Thimbum to Kadambur (4.4 km); and Thamaraikarai to Thaalakarai (3.6km).
The other identified places during the current year includes Sirumalaipudur to Thenmalai (6 km) in Sirumalai Reserve Land in Dindigul district; Vilangudi to Kolayanur in Ariyalur district; Kovilagam to Vandaravu in Kodaikanal forest area, and from Nuthappur in Perambalur district border to Puliankurichi in Salem district, Forest Department authorities told ‘The Hindu’.
The Forest Engineering Division encompasses Kodaikanal, Coimbatore, Sathyamangalam, Erode, Tirupattur, Vellore and Theni ranges.
The road improvement works has already commenced in certain stretches, a senior official said adding that the objective was to shorten travel time between villages on the fringes of RFs.
Alongside afforestation, the Forest Department has been executing such works in the interests of the residents of villages adjoining forests and as welfare measure. In 2008-09, road improvement projects were carried out to a total distance of 75.69 kms at a cost of over Rs. 10 crore.