Satyasundar Barik

A 15-point proposal has been accepted by NHAI

Solar electric fence will be erected to prevent straying of elephants

Of the 700 elephants killed between 1990 and 2008, 23 per cent died in accidents

BHUBANESWAR: The proposed National Highway 215 that passes through mineral-rich Keonjhar district could become the first “elephant-friendly road” of Orissa on its completion.

A 15-point recommendation proposed by Wildlife Wing of State Forest Department has been accepted by National High Authority of India (NHAI).

Wildlife wing has suggested elephant paths, preferably underpasses, measuring 20-metre width and six-metre height should be provided on the national highway and signs about wildlife be put up along the road in forest patches. The guidelines were prescribed for Rimuli-Rajamunda stretch on NH 215.

For other animals underpasses of three-metre width and five-metre height should be provided along the national highway. Reptile passes should also be built in forest stretches using 300 mm hume pipes above water level. There should be at least two such underpasses per every one-kilometer stretch.

The wildlife wing also suggested installation of reflectors to avoid impact on wildlife by vehicle headlights and mooted an idea of erecting solar electric fence to prevent straying of elephants on the road and into the village.

The department emphasised on quick of road in the forest stretches to avoid disturbance to wildlife.

When contacted, A. K Ray, Deputy General Manager of NHAI based in Bhubaneswar, said the suggestions put forward by wildlife wing was accepted and the consultant for the road project would be impressed upon to incorporate the concept in the planning.

In a workshop, researcher with State wildlife wing, L. A. K. Singh had revealed that about 700 elephants had been killed between 1990 and 2008 in the State of which 34 per cent fell prey to poachers and a sizeable 23 per cent died in accidents.