Saturday, July 02, 2011

Girdle for Gir: Ring road to mark lion kingdom

Girdle for Gir: Ring road to mark lion kingdom
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

The state government has planned a ring road around Gir sanctuary to divert traffic that trespasses the Asiatic lion kingdom. The proposed 269-km road will connect villages on the periphery of Gir National Park and sanctuary covering 1,412 sq km. About six state highways and some minor roads pass through the sanctuary.Every day, 35-40 light vehicles cross the sanctuary. The heavy vehicular traffic of luxury buses and trucks is mostly along the Talala-Mendarda and Una-Talala state highways.

The last state transport bus enters the sanctuary at 8 pm and gets out around 9.15 pm which is the period when wild animals move about the jungle hunting for food or water. Private vehicles can cross the sanctuary only between sunrise and sunset.

"The state government has sent the proposal to the ministry of forest and environment for the ring road which is estimated to cost around Rs 600 crore. The project is under consideration," said Pradeep Khanna, principal chief conservator of forests. The project was cleared by the state wildlife board.

Khanna said that this ring road will stop movement of vehicles within and on the periphery of the sanctuary. Only those vehicles which belong to villages inside the sanctuary will be permitted, said the forest official. This would be safe for animals and reduce the risk of poaching.He cited an instance where on the Talala-Sasan road, a lion died after it fell off a bridge because it was blinded by the headlight of a speeding vehicle. In 2007 poachers had used the Una-Talala state highway to hunt lions. The proposed ring road will have 14 flyovers and 16 underpasses on specific migratory paths for safe passages to wild life.

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