Development and roads

Recently, an organization demanded that survey for a road passing through the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) under the East-West Industrial Corridor road be allowed after the forest department withdrew the permission for it.

The forest and environment department had initially allowed the PWD highway to undertake the survey and investigation for the EWIC for preparation of a detailed project report, but later withdrew the permission it had given in April 2021.

In its withdrawal letter written on 30 June, 2021, the forest department cited provision of Section 38 V (4) (i) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, wherein it is stated that core/critical tiger habitats of tiger reserves are to be kept inviolate for purposes of tiger conservation. The department also cited the outcome of the standing committee meeting of the National Board for Wildlife during 12-13 August, 2014, when it was decided that no new roads shall be proposed inside national parks and sanctuaries.

It also mentioned a letter from the ministry of road transport & highways issued on 29 May, 2019, which states that “all efforts shall be made to avoid any road alignment through national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, even if it requires taking a longer route/bypass.”

Roads are often made violating laid down environment norms in Arunachal, mentioning defence and security purposes as the reasons for such violations. It appears that the Pakke Tiger Reserve will also see a road passing through the heart of it if the laws aren’t respected. The state should tread carefully, taking into account all the concerns, so that habitat isn’t destroyed.