Toll plaza to jeopardize leopard corridor disclosed in RTI

Leopard1460_300For the first time, the district wildlife department has recommended that the Kherki Daula toll plaza be shifted to Panchgaon, instead of the proposed Sehrawan, due to presence of a high density of wild animals in the surrounding areas.

In a comprehensive RTI (Right to Information) response, the department said the area around the proposed site in Sehrawan is an important leopard corridor, with 15 leopards and nine other carnivore species, which are protected under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This is the first time the district wildlife department has given data on the leopard population around Sehrawan.

“The site selected for toll plaza in Sehrawan (in the Indian state of Haryana) has the Aravali Hills on both sides of the road. The area has many wild animals including leopards, jackals, hyena, jungle cat, civet cat, pythons, monitor lizards and Indian hares. All are protected under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972… There are at least 15 leopards in the area… The department has already reported accidents of leopards in 2010 and 2014 on the road… The toll plaza should, therefore, be built in Panchgaon,” states the RTI response to Manesar resident Ram Avatar.

It also says, “There is a check dam built by the forest department and two natural ponds, located very close to the proposed toll plaza.” Vinod Kumar, conservator of forests (wildlife department), told Times of India, “The toll plaza will separate 1,500 acre of rich habitat of leopard on the north from the existing leopard corridor. There is a need to have under- and over-passes for animals, or an elevated highway. Shifting it to Panchgaon is a better option.” Ram Avatar, who has been questioning the toll plaza relocation, said, “The proposed site is running right through a wildlife corridor used by several families of leopards, as well as other wild animals — civet cats, hyenas, jackals, nilgais, porcupines, monitor lizards, peacocks, etc. I see this rich habitat every day and it’s disheartening to imagine this will be gone.”

The department also cited a survey of wild species in the Aravalis in five divisions of south Haryana — Gurugram, Faridabad, Mewat, Mahendargarh and Rewari — according to which, the area has 31 leopards, 166 jackals, 50 mongoose, three wolves, 26 jungle cats, four fox, 126 hyenas, two rhesus macaques and 61 civet cats. The survey covered 51 sites and trails and 126.68km of distance. The environmentalists have been objecting to the Gurugram administration’s decision to shift the toll plaza from Kherki Daula to Sehrawan, saying the anticipated rise in number of vehicles using the highway would adversely affect the wildlife of the area near Sehrawan.

Reportedly, the district administration is in the process of granting 65 acres of forest land in the Aravalis belonging to gram panchayats of three villages, Manesar, Kakrola and Sehrawan, to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), to build the new toll plaza. (Times of India ; 15-03-2018)

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