Conservationists fear elevated corridor over Bannerghatta National Park will harm wildlife

They say Bannerghatta National Park is a very linear protected area with forest areas as narrow as 300 metres in some parts

Updated - August 24, 2023 01:01 pm IST

Published - August 23, 2023 10:23 pm IST - MYSURU

A herd of sambhar deer in the Bannerghatta Biological Park.

A herd of sambhar deer in the Bannerghatta Biological Park. | Photo Credit: file photo

Will the State Wildlife Board’s clearance for an elevated corridor over Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) to ease traffic escalate conflict situation in the peripheral areas?

That is the question doing rounds with conservationists of the view that the corridor alignment cuts through elephant habitat. The board, which met in Bengaluru on Tuesday (Aug 22), cleared the proposal for the Satellite Town Ring Road (STRR) project that will connect seven towns around Bengaluru besides decongesting the Bengaluru city roads. The elevated stretch is part of the 280-km long STRR and the work is expected to be completed by December 2025.

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Sources said the BNP Eco Sensitive Zone notification does not issue a blanket ban on widening, strengthening the existing roads and construction of new roads but it stipulates mitigatory measures as per the applicable rules and regulations.

Construction time

Expressing concern over the developments, a section of conservationists pointed out that about 19.09 hectares of forest land will be affected by the nearly 6.3 km-long highway project. But what is important is that the construction period will span many years and in the interim cause damage and disturbance to the surrounding landscape and escalate conflict which is already high in the region.

Dr. Sanjay Gubbi, a conservation biologist, pointed out that Bannerghatta National Park is a very linear protected area with forest areas as narrow as 300 metres in some parts. Hence, it needs to be ensured that the mitigation measures are planned and designed based on scientific studies and not on an ad-hoc basis. It should involve a good understanding of wildlife movement patterns especially that of elephants, he added.

It will reduce the habitat available for elephants and increase the conflict in the long run as there are nearly 100 elephants that use the landscape. Besides, Bannerghatta has two tigers and thus Bengaluru is the only city in the country with tigers, a substantial population of elephants, leopards, dholes, and gaur all right at its edge, said Mr. Gubbi.

Other experts said what is important is the alignment of the elevated corridor and the mitigatory measures tend to read fine on paper but the impact on wildlife will be substantial during the construction phase.  Consequent to clearance from the State Board for Wildlife, it will now be referred for clearance from National Board for Wildlife.

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