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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Wildlife officials in Kolhapur to survey stretch of W Ghats

Kolhapur: A team of Deharadun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) on Wednesday visited the proposed ghat section of Shivdav-Sonavade in Bhudargad and held discussions on various issues with the forest officials.

The team is working on how to issue permission for constructing the 8.5km-long
stretch, which is passing through the buffer zone of Radhanagari wildlife sanctuary, where the officials recently recorded the presence of a tiger.

But going by the current drive of the government wherein efforts are on to protect the wildlife as well as forest areas, it will be a challenging task for the WII as well as ministry of environment and forest to clear the project.

The team members would remain in Kolhapur till June 7, after which they will head to Sindhudurg district for further study.

They are studying aspects such as habitat of animals, type of forest and its specialities and possible repercussions of the project.

The Gargoti-Patgao-Zaraptitta route would be an additional road connecting Kolhapur with Goa.

As compared to the existing routes via Amboli or Fonda ghats, Shivdav-Sonavade ghat would reduce the distance by at least 30km.

Divisional forest officer Sitaram Zure has already submitted his recommendations to the Union government stating that there should be sufficient number of passes so that the vehicular movement does not disturb the wildlife much. The forest department wants to avoid animals using roads for crossing, which makes them more vulnerable to accidents.

R K Desai, former deputy engineer in the public works department (PWD), said, "Three roads connect Kolhapur with Sindhudurg, which are widely used by the tourists and transporters to reach Goa. People from southern parts of Kolhapur use Amboli ghat route, while those from north Kolhapur use Fonda and Karul ghats, which are closer to Kankavali tehsil in Sindhudurg. Amboli connects with Sawantwadi tehsil and further with Mumbai-Goa national highway no. 17. The proposed new ghat would help reach Malvan, Kudal and Vengurla tehsils in Sindhudurg."

"It will be an east to west ghat with a comfortable slope at Anjiwade village. It is a natural slope. Hence, converting it into a ghat would do no harm," he added.

N K Kamble, a champion of the new route, said, "If the railways can get clearance for the Kolhapur-Vaibhawadi railway line, which will have a couple of tunnels, the ghat construction in comparison will not be that destructive. I have been demanding that the forest and PWD officials should sit together and workout plans such as creating crossing routes for the wildlife. This would avoid any chances of human-animal conflicts."

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