Green activists see red over Forest Dept's road plans in Cauvery wildlife sanctuary

According to activists, the road is being built inside Gopinatham range from Palar anti-poaching camp up to Padasalanatta, and from Padasalanatta to Nagamalai.

Bengaluru: The alleged illegal construction of a road within the Cauvery wildlife sanctuary has stoked a controversy, with wildlife activists accusing the forest department of carrying out the road building activity without obtaining permissions.  However, the forest department has rubbished the allegations.

According to activists, the road is being built inside Gopinatham range from Palar anti-poaching camp up to Padasalanatta, and from Padasalanatta to Nagamalai. Activists have alleged that the road work did not have the necessary permissions.

As per rules, any construction of new roads inside wildlife sanctuary must have permission from the state wildlife board and the national board for wildlife and other agencies. “The subcommittee report in fact makes it clear that status-quo of the roads must be maintained and no new roads to be allowed to come up. In total disregard for norms, officials have taken up road construction within the sanctuary limits,” said activists.

Activists said the new road when completed would lead to increased tourism pressure on the forest patch as Nagamalai temple visitors would use this new road. “Already a road from MM hills to Nagamalai exists and people have been using it from decades.  Additionally, this new road will also increase the movement of vehicles from Tamil Nadu in this stretch,” they said.

They also said that poaching has been rampant in the sanctuary, and construction of this new road would only exacerbate the problem.

However, forest officials denied building any road. “There is a revenue village deep inside and there is also an existing road. There is no construction at all,” said Ramesh Kumar, DCF, Cauvery wildlife sanctuary.

The DCF said villagers wanted to drill a borewell as the only well in the village had dried-up. “The bore-well drilling machine went through the route and we helped them clearing the path at a few places, so that the vehicle can reach the village. Since the villagers had right of way, we cannot deny them their rights,” he said. “This is necessary considering the severe drought situation in that village,” he added.

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