The violations by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) were brought up by members of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) in its 24th standing committee meeting held on 13th December, 2011.
NHAI’s non-compliance with conditions while constructing a four-lane expressway through the Lumding Reserve Forest in Assam that will cut through a crucial Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong migratory corridor for tigers, elephants, gibbons and gaur was brought up by Prerna Bindra, member of NBWL and co-ordinator of Panthera, an NGO working for tiger conservation. Wildlife Trust of India’s (WTI) chairman, M K Ranjitsinh had also taken up the issue of NH7 on the agenda. Kishor Rithe of the Satpuda foundation said that as representatives of the environment ministry, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCFs) must initiate action when violations are reported. Since January, three leopards have died in road kills on NH6, as mitigation measures were not taken by NHAI.
The NHAI violation of forest and wildlife laws is a serious issue, Prerna Bindra said. She pointed out the violations of forest laws in NH6, and non-compliance in case of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong. With demand for new roads and expansion of roads through protected areas and corridors coming up frequently, it is important that NHAI take on board ecological concerns, she added.
Environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, has promised action and said that the matter would be dealt with seriously.