In order to ensure the safety of the animals living in the Palamu Tiger Reserve in the state of Jharkhand, the forest department and railways will carry out joint inspections to find alternative routes.
The officials of the forest department and the railways are expected to carry out the inspection this month to find out the possible routes for the proposed third railway line, which would run outside the core area of the tiger reserve, PTI reported.
Various types of wild animals such as grey wolves, sloth bears, elephants, and pangolins inhabit the tiger reserve. There have also been two tiger sightings in the area this year.
The forest department has been opposing the third railway line, which would run from Son Nagar in Bihar to Patratu in Jharkhand covering core areas of the forest. It was proposed to construct an 11-km long track through the core area of the reserve.
The forest department claimed that the proposed railway line would result in the fragmentation of the tiger reserve’s habitat, as it would allow trains to run through it at regular intervals. It would also affect the movements of the animals.
In 2020, the National TcA warned the authorities against building another railway line within the protected area. After the forest departments raised their concerns, the state government of Jharkhand suggested that the railway line be shifted to a buffer zone within the reserve.
The railways, however, have allowed the forest department to carry out studies on the possible alignment of the third railway line and the existing lines outside the reserve’s core area. According to Kumar Ashutosh, the tracks will be shifted to a buffer zone around the tiger reserve.
The Palamau Tiger Reserve was one of the first nine protected areas in the country when Project Tiger was launched in 1974. it has a total area of 1,129.93 square kilometres. Of this, 414.08 square kilometres is considered the reserve’s core area, while the remaining portion is a buffer zone. The Betla National Park is located in the area. Two railway tracks were laid in the reserve between 1964 and 1975.
Officials of the railways and the forest department are expected to inspect the proposed routes for the third railway line and the existing lines outside the reserve’s core area in April.