Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation or the MSRDC, which is tasked with the construction of this highway, collaborated with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to develop safe crossings for the wildlife inhabiting the forests lining this highway.
Safe passage for wildlife: India’s fastest highway to get wildlife bridges and underpasses for wildlife safety! Roads running through the forest areas often bear witness to accidents where wildlife are injured by motor vehicles. Or sometimes, the traffic is held up on such routes to allow wild animals to pass through. This is something that India has also previously witnessed on major roads like highways. However, the Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway, touted to be the fastest highway in India with a top speed of 150 km per hour, is being constructed to allow co-existent movement of wildlife and traffic with its five wildlife bridges and network of underpasses, according to a report in IE.
The expressway, which has a length of 701 kms, and is 120 metres broad, goes through three sanctuaries – Tansa sanctuary in Thane, Karanja-Sohol sanctuary in Washim and Katepurna sanctuary at the Akola-Washim border. Apart from that, the highway which would be partially commissioned in May this year also goes through 35 wildlife focus areas (WFAs). Of these 35 WFAs, 16 fall in Vidarbha, three are located in Marathwada and 16 lie in the North Western Ghats. All of these areas stretch over a span of 118 kms.
However, more than just the danger of roadkill, another important aspect that needed to be looked at was the fact that a high-speed traffic corridor, which cut through the wildlife areas, could result in restricting the movement of animals, and lead to a change in their dispersal as well as their behavioural patterns. It was after taking this into consideration that the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation or the MSRDC, which is tasked with the construction of this highway, collaborated with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to develop safe crossings for the wildlife inhabiting the forests lining this highway.
The report quoted WII scientist Dr Bilal Habib as saying that the idea behind creating such passage was to ensure that the animals native to these areas had the means to reach the area across the road without them having to put their lives in danger. Habib, who led the wildlife mitigation measures on the project, further added that the unique thing about this highway was that it became the first highway where wildlife mitigation was taken into consideration, even though it did not cut through any protected areas of the forest.