The proposed developmental work of the widening of the road, which will pass through the heart of Jambughoda wildlife sanctuary, will result in deforestation and pose a grave threat to wild animals, feel nature conservationists and environmentalists. The project implementation unit of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Bharuch division, is preparing the detailed project report (DPR) for the proposed road expansion project of Halol-Bodeli state highway no 5. About 49-km stretch of the road will pass through the Jambughoda wildlife sanctuary. Alarmed by this development, nature conservationists and environmentalists have raised a red-flag, stating that it will completely destroy the forest ecology and wildlife in the sanctuary.
Under this project, the existing two-lane road will be converted into a four-lane which will connect major pilgrimage centres between Halol and Bodeli on 49-km stretch of road via Shivrajpur and Jambughoda forest area in the Panchmahals district.
Forest department officials said, “The proposed project of widening the road will damage the flora and fauna of the sanctuary. Since the proposed road will pass through the heart of the sanctuary it will also pose a grave risk to the life of wild animals. It is the home of leopards, sloth bear, pangolin, jackal, hyena, barking deer and, four-horned antelope and birds like magpie robin, crested dove. There are a few forests left in Gujarat with rich flora and fauna and Jambughoda is one of them, we have to protect it.”
Officials also warned that increased deforestation will affect the rainfall in the forest area leading to water crisis in future. There are three dams — Kada, Targol, and Dharia — in the sanctuary which store rain water and provide irrigation water to near by tribal areas. “The survey work of the project area is under way, we will also seek the forest clearance to move ahead with the project. This project is aimed at connecting the pilgrimage centres of the backward areas in Panchmahals district,” said S P Sharma, project director, project implementation unit, NHAI.
Meanwhile, Vikramsingh Rana, a descendant of a former royal family of Jambughoda and wildlife enthusiast, in his representation to the former chief minister Anandiben Patel, said, “If this development work is allowed, many rare species of indigenous trees will be destroyed which will lead to deforestation and soil erosion.”
“Jambughoda is a natural habitat of many rare wildlife species like sloth bears, leopards and birds. With the expansion of the road, traffic will increase leading to more accidents,” Rana added.