After cutting through the Namdapha National Park, India’s easternmost tiger reserve, a new highway project has been cleared through yet another big cat reserve in Arunachal Pradesh.
Documents received in response to an RTI inquiry by Seijosa-based green activist Tana Jorjo Tara reveal that the BJP government in the State plans to build a 692.7 km highway through the 862 sq km Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) in East Kameng district.
The administrative office of the PTR is in Seijosa, a sub-divisional headquarters situated by the Pakhui or Pakke River.
Named the East-West Industrial Corridor, the highway aims to connect Bhairabhunda in West Kameng district and Manmao in Changlang district along Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam. The project makes no mention of compensation for people likely to be displaced.
What has set alarm bells ringing for environmentalists is a 40-km elevated stretch through the heart of the PTR as advised by a Gujarat-based firm. A high-powered committee, headed the State Assembly Speaker P.D. Sona, had on February 5 approved the detailed project report for the elevated section, estimated to cost ₹2,550 crore.
“Elevation is no guarantee against felling of trees and disturbing wildlife in the sensitive PTR. This corridor will be a threat to the adjoining Nameri Tiger Reserve in Assam too,” Mr. Tara told The Hindu on Sunday.
He said the proposed highway had been realigned to bisect PTR after the NHPC turned down the original proposal to let the corridor pass near its hydroelectric project on the Subansiri River, east of Seijosa.
“I have survived seven attacks for fighting cases against illegal logging since 2016. I won’t give up until the government finds an acceptable alternative [route],” Mr. Tara said.