An open contour canal constructed during the 1960s for the Parambikulam Aliyar Project in Coimbatore district has become a death trap for wildlife in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), Pollachi.

Naturalists and environmentalists say the canal runs to a distance of nearly 50 km, of which a 45-km stretch passes through the ATR.

During seasonal migration and dry periods, elephants, tigers, leopards, sloth bears, wild dogs, Indian Gaur, sambhar deer and spotted deer come to the canal for drinking water.

If the animals fall into the canal, it would be difficult to rescue them.

The Project is maintained by the State Public Works Department, which began refurbishing the canal as there were many leaks in it. The work began nearly a year ago.

A. Rangarajan, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Green Movement, said his organisation had sent a letter to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) demanding a joint inspection of the place with representatives from the PWD, Forest Department and the National Board for Wildlife. The CEC had also sent a letter to the Chief Secretary to arrange for a site inspection.

However, nothing has been done in this regard, Mr. Rangarajan charged. He said the canal, apart from fragmenting the forest, leads to death and maiming of wildlife, which will be more than a dozen annually.

The Forest Department had divided the 49-km canal into eight stretches and conducted a survey.

During the survey, officials recorded the presence of at least half a dozen species of wildlife along the stretch.

Making provisions for the wildlife to cross over from one side to the other is the recommendation for the first stretch which begins from the Power House till the entrance of the tunnel 1; the second stretch is the entrance of the tunnel 1 where the recommendation was to erect railings. The other recommendations included installing scalable slopes and railings to prevent wildlife from falling into the canal and facility for wildlife to access water along the canal.

When contacted, wildlife authorities said they have requested the PWD to provide platforms to facilitate animals to drink water safely from the canal. Similarly, they have given a few designs to the PWD authorities, which would help the wildlife cross the canal without any problem.

“Wildlife concerns are well taken care of by the department,” a senior official added.

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