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One-km-long flyover to be built to facilitate elephant movement in Odisha

An elephant struggles to cross a busy section of a road. (For representational purposes only) Photo: Special arrangement.  

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will build a one-kilometre-long flyover exclusively for elephant herds so that jumbos can cross the busy highway unhindered beneath the structure in Odisha.

The proposed flyover is the first of its kind structure to be created, keeping the smooth movement of elephants in mind in the State.

“The flyover for elephants will come up between Rairakhol and Sambalpur. Vehicular traffic will move on the flyover while elephants will take their traditional path underneath the structure,” said Ram Prasad Panda, Chief General Manager, NHAI, Odisha on Tuesday.

At present, when elephant herds are near the national highway-55 between Cuttack and Sambalpur, the elephant tracker teams of the Forest and Environment Department stop vehicular traffic from both sides. It helps the jumbos cross the road. It has been a regular feature for the past few years.

The second flyover for elephants, which will be 532-metre-long, has been proposed between Pallahara and Keonjhar.

Apart from the one-km-long flyover in the 112-km section of NH-55 between Angul and Sambalpur, 12 elephant underpasses have been proposed. There will also be 29 underpasses for reptiles in the section. According to NHAI, additional elephant underpasses have been proposed between the Cuttack and Angul stretch of NH-55.

The woes of the distressed elephants of Odisha had gone up with time and their habitats and paths were getting continuously encroached upon for mining, farming, industries and urbanisation.

“We have long been highlighting the issue of fragmentation of elephant corridors due to various developmental projects. A few years ago, elephant underpasses were created between Panikoili and Rajamunda along NH-215,” said Biswajit Mohanty of Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), an environmental pressure group.

The WSO had moved National Green Tribunal (NGT), Eastern Zone, alleging that dimension of underpasses created along NH-55 was not as per guidelines of Wildlife Institute of India Report-2016 regarding ‘Eco-friendly measures to mitigate impacts of linear infrastructure on wildlife’. The guideline recommends a 50-metre span of underpass and 6-8 metre of height.

The organization claimed that the spans of underpasses were reduced to 25-metre instead of 50 metre, which could prove detrimental for elephant movement. The NGT has issued notices to NHAI.

“In 1979, there were 2044 elephants in the State. Today their number has reduced to 1976 (2017 census) after being compelled to leave native forests, scattering into smaller populations and entering new areas. Now, 26 of the 30 districts have elephants,” said Mr. Mohanty.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 4:13:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/one-km-long-flyover-to-be-built-to-facilitate-elephant-movement-in-odisha/article37782695.ece

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