The central empowered committee (CEC), appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the cases related to the violation of Forest (Conservation) Act and Wildlife (Protection) Act, has fixed July 6 for the hearing of the case related to the violation of rules in a road widening work inside Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) of Bihar. The CEC admitted the case on the basis of a petition filed by Ashok Kumar, vice-chairman of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) based on an initial complaint by Prerna Singh Bindra, a member of the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NDWL).
Bindra had come to know about the issue during her visit to the VTR in February this year. Here is her first hand report:
“During my visit I was shocked to note that the Valmiki Nagar — Bagha State Highway which passes through the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) was being repaired, and widened — almost to double its breadth according to officials — without the required permission from the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) as mandated. As I was informed, that ‘permission’ has been sought and granted from the state for repairing the existing road breadth. This too, of course, requires permission from the NBWL. I was told that the officials had written to the local administration / engineers asking the road to be stopped. Nonetheless, the repair and widening is almost complete — and as can be seen from the picture, construction work is on in full swing, with rollers, JCBs and tractors. Hundreds of vehicles pass through this road everyday, particularly tractors and trucks of sugarcane, causing huge disturbance. The state highway cuts through the Madanpur range on the western part of the reserve and the connectivity of this part is almost lost to western Valmiki, which is of grave concern. It must be restored. Now, I hear that that another road from from Gaunaha to Bhikhna Thori (Approximately 7-8 km of the stretch lies inside the sanctuary is being widened).”
The Telegraph had on February 8 published a report highlighting the issue.