NHAI’s elevated Saharanpur-Dehradun road to reduce wildlife casualties

The National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) proposed 12-km, four-lane elevated road to Dehradun, through Shivalik forest in Saharanpur, is expected to be a unique model of development that takes care of wildlife conservation.

The road will connect Mohand in Saharanpur to Dehradun and replace the existing two-lane road on which many wild animals often die after getting hit by vehicles.

The elevated road will take a detour into the Mohand Rau (seasonal rivulet), instead of the earlier plan to widen the existing road to four lanes and pass it through two tunnels. It will provide a safe corridor to wild animals, especially tigers, to walk freely between Rajaji National Park (RNP) and Shivalik forests.

A joint team of RNP, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Saharanpur forest department and NHAI conducted the final spot survey of the area last week to finalise the alignment of the proposed road.

NHAI’s Dehradun region project director Vibhav Mittal said the project would be a unique model where development and conservation of wild animals would go hand-in-hand. He hoped its tendering would be processed by the end of this year. The entire project would cost between Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 1,700 crore and vehicles could ply on it with a maximum speed of 80 km per hour. He also claimed that there would be minimum loss of trees and hills during completion of the project.

The Uttarakhand government had recently decided to translocate a few tigers in Motichur range of RNP’s tiger reserve from other locations of the state.

Meanwhile, the Saharanpur forest department sent a proposal to declare over 33,000 hectares of thick forest area of Shivalik forest as the fourth tiger reserve of UP and second in western UP.

A six month trap camera survey of the forest has spotted more than 50 leopards, different species of herbivores, snakes, civet cats and many other animals which make it perfect for relocation of tigers, which were sighted here till 2005.

Sanjay Kumar, divisional commissioner of Saharanpur, said initially the project was designed to widen the existing road to four lanes with construction of two tunnels.

“But we shared the idea of an elevated road and the NHAI accepted it after verifying its viability and cost. It will be a mesmerising journey for people with scenic beauty of hills and rivers on both sides of the road and at the same time set an example of development by taking care of wildlife conservation,” Kumar said.

Conservator of forest of Saharanpur division V K Jain, who is working hard to get the Shivalik forests declared tiger reserve, said the elevated road would prevent deaths of animals. He further said people would have a road on which they can travel at 80 km per hour to make their journey faster and pleasant.

The existing road to Dehradun passes through jungle area of Mohand and Shivalik hills up to Daat Devi temple. A new tunnel has been built close to the old tunnel near Daat Devi temple and project director Mittal says that the elevated road would end at the temple. He further said NHAI generally constructs roads for a speed of 120 km per hour but because of many sharp turns in the hills, this road will have maximum speed of 80 km per hour and cut travel time to Dehradun by an hour.

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