NHAI has made a provision of Rs 58 crore to mitigate the impact of widening of a National Highway 17 stretch passing through Karnala Bird Sanctuary, Mumbai, government said today.
“NHAI has approved an estimate of Rs 58.16 crore to mitigate impacts on wildlife in Karnala Bird Sanctuary (KBS) for widening of part of Panvel-Indapur section of NH-17. This section constitutes direct connectivity from Mumbai to Goa,” Road Transport and Highways Ministry said in a statement.
The highway stretch passes for about 1.5 km length within the KBS under Thane wildlife division of West Mumbai Wildlife Circle.
The major mitigation measures being adopted by NHAI (National Highways Authority of India), as per recommendations of the Wildlife Institute of India, include four wildlife passages in the 1.5 km sanctuary stretch. Besides, seven box culverts are also being provided.
NHAI applied for wildlife clearance for the project which was granted in the meeting of the Standing committee of National Board of Wildlife.
“While recommending the proposal of NHAI, the state government also agreed that the stretch of 3.5 km within and outside sanctuary area (1.5 Km within the sanctuary, and 1 Km on either side) would be a permanent bottleneck and will hinder the traffic speed on the highway, if it is not widened,” the statement said.
The total length of the project is 84 Km, and the total project cost is Rs 943 crore. The state government endorsed the proposal of widening the highway within the sanctuary, saying that this may also smoothen the traffic and reduce the fuel emissions from recurring traffic jams that may be harmful to the birds and other wildlife, it added.
The KBS is covered with moist mixed deciduous forest and falls in the Western Ghat bio-geographic zone.
The sanctuary is particularly rich in climbers and as many as 11 species are recorded from KBS.
Among mammals, three species of primates (common langur, bonnet macaque and rhesus macaque) occur in the sanctuary besides existence of barking deer, wild pig, jackals, hyaena, jungle cat, squirrel, porcupine and Indian hare.
“KBS is particularly known for its rich avifauna and is home to over 146 species of resident and 37 species of migratory birds that visit during winter,” it said.
The government said as there are no large animals in the KBS, box culverts may also create permeability for wildlife across habitat patches and a total of 27 structures shall be provided for total length of 3.5 km stretch.
NHAI approval also includes other wildlife management measures like retaining wall, fencing, signages, watch towers, provision of water for wildlife.