Updated: September 15, 2021 7:07:38 am
The Karnataka Forest Department has refused to give permission for the construction of a road connecting Thodikana in Kodagu with Sullia in Dakshina Kannada district since it was supposed to pass through the Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and the Pattighat Reserve Forest. The department said that the construction of the road would violate the Forest Conservation Act (FCA).
The villagers of Patti and Thodikana have been demanding the construction of the road for the past decade. The road can bring down the distance of travel between Mangaluru and Talacauvery from 191 km to 131 km.
However, the road will pass through more than 10 hectares of forest land.
Vijaykumar Gogi, who is the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and also Chief Wildlife Warden, said, “As per FCA regulations, diversion of more than one hectare of forest land for public utility is not allowed. Moreover, the project should not involve cutting down of more than 50 trees per hectare. The concerned divisional forest officer will assess the minimum area of forest land that is required for the road to be constructed. But we have a major hurdle here.”
Another senior official from the Karnataka Forest Department stated, “It is right on the part of the forest department to not allow the project as it would compromise a biodiversity-rich ecosystem. Once you permit increased human intervention by way of developing road connectivity, the forest ecosystem will be the first casualty. Moreover, there have been incidents of illegal felling of trees within the forest area by the timber mafia in connivance with the forest officials. This road should not be constructed.”
Wildlife Board and National Board for Wildlife also need to grant permission for the road to be constructed through the wildlife sanctuary.
In 2013, the state forest department secretary wrote a letter to the Union environment ministry seeking permission to develop a 2km-stretch of road inside the Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.
More recently, in May 2020, the public works department and the forest department had erected concrete pillars and marked trees to be cut down for the construction of roads. But the project was stalled by the forest authorities.
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