Yet Another Road In A Tiger Forest!
February 2010: It’s common knowledge that tiger habitats across the country are in peril. However, our political leaders and government agencies continue to devise new threats to these fragile landscapes on a daily basis. The latest menace comes in the form of a proposed road project over the Banas river, which flows between the Keladevi Sanctuary and the Ranthambhore National Park in southeastern Rajasthan.
The Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve extends across 1,394 sq. km. and is divided in almost two equal parts by the Banas river. The area southwest of Banas – Ranthambhore National Park, Sawai Madhopur Sanctuary, Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary and Qualji Closed Area – constitutes the Core Division of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. The area northeast of Banas which includes the Keladevi Sanctuary (600 sq. km.) constitutes the buffer for the national park. Though the bulk of the tiger population is restricted to the Ranthambhore National Park, tigers also migrate to the Keladevi and Sawai Mansingh Sanctuaries.
The damming of the Banas river has already reduced it to the status of a perennial stream with a wide expanse of sand. Yet, migratory birds flock to the shrunken river bed every season and animals, even rare ones such as the wolf and desert fox, can be spotted here. The huge pastureland of Bhavpur also serves to attract wildlife despite minor disturbances like small-scale agriculture and mining for river sand. The river is a crucial corridor for migration of wildlife between the Keladevi Sanctuary and the Ranthambhore National Park as well as a very important source of water for wildlife.
The proposed construction of a road between Sawata and Hadoti in the Sawai Madhopur district which involves building two land bridges will. however, sever this crucial corridor. It will also involve heavy mining of river sand from the banks of the Banas. The 6.5 crore rupees project has already been cleared by the Forest Department despite its implications for the tiger reserve as the department believes it will help in improving access to the Keladevi Sanctuary. Some wildlifers suggest that the road is being constructed only to help a handful of contractors dealing in supplying river sand to big builders.
The connectivity between the Ranthambhore National Park and the Keladevi and Sawai Mansingh Sanctuaries are vital. Anthropogenic pressures in the form of several villages in the area and the existing state highway between the Ranthambhore National Park and the Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary already hampers the movement of wildlife. The small corridor through the Banas river is therefore vital for wildlife, particularly young tigers seeking to establish new territories.
Write to the Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan, the Chief Minister of the State and the National Tiger Conservation Authority stating the following points and asking for a detailed study of the impact of the road.
1. The construction of the road and bridges between Sawata and Hadoti in Sawai Madhopur district will affect a crucial corridor for movement of tigers between Ranthambhore National Park and Keladevi Wildlife Sanctuary.
2. The road project must be stopped instantly and damage already done must be assessed and made public.
3. Steps must be taken to further secure this wildlife corridor.
Mr. Ashok Gehlot
Chief Minister of Rajasthan, 8, Civil Lines, Jaipur – 302 006.
Tel.: 2227351, Fax: 2227687.
Chief Wildlife Warden
Government of Rajasthan, Van Bhavan, Vaniki Path, Jaipur – 302 005.
Tel.: 380832, Fax: 0141 380496/ 380832.
National Tiger Conservation Authority
Annexe No. 5, Bikaner House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi –110011.
Telefax: 2338 4428 E-mail: