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Environmental Impact of Asia’s Largest Wildlife Elevated Corridor: Dehradun

by | Jun 11, 2022 | Environment, News Article, Pollution News

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, had announced a development project worth Rs 18,000 crore in Uttarakhand during the last few months of 2021. The task for a new highway between Delhi and Dehradun aims to reduce the distance between the two cities from 248 km to 180 km. It would take 2.5 hours to travel along the new highway. However, massive projects such as this one always have some impacts. Would there be any environmental impact of Asia’s largest wildlife elevated corridor?

The Delhi-Dehradun economic corridor will connect the areas of Ganeshpur-Mohand in the Saharanpur district with Uttarakhand’s capital- Dehradun. The corridor runs along the 28 km stretch of National Highway 72A, which sits between the Shivalik forests range. The forest range is famous for its rich and ample wildlife, especially elephants. Traffic always chokes the existing two-lane highway (NH 72A) all year round. The traffic, mainly consisting of buses and trucks, is a considerable burden to wildlife. Wild animals are unable to cross the roads due to the traffic. The vehicles produce air and noise pollution, which significantly inconveniences the wilderness around.

Environmental Impact of Asia's Largest Wildlife Elevated Corridor: Dehradun

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The upcoming corridor will host Asia’s most prominent wildlife elevated corridor (12 km) for free wildlife movement. In order to reduce the impact on wildlife and the environment, certain plans are underway. For example, the government will provide for multiple wildlife passes near Ganeshpu-Dehradun, arrangements for rainwater harvesting at intervals of 500 meters with 400 plus water recharge points, etc. The construction of the economic corridor is likely to boost the overall economy of the area. It aims to achieve absolute connectivity and reduce logistic costs. It will also generate plentiful employment opportunities- directly and indirectly.

But as history has taught us that every step towards development has one way or the other, been proved to be destructive to the environment and the ecosystem we live in. And this highly ambitious project of the Indian government is no different. Though this project has a lot of growth opportunities on the development side but the environmental impact of Asia’s largest wildlife elevated corridor, which is being built in Dehradun, will prove to be very costly for the environment in the region. Thousands of trees had to be cut down and forests cleared to successfully build this expressway. Reports already predict a lot of damage that people in the valley will have to face in the near future.

A Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report was conducted along the corridor from March to May 2021. According to the report, the impacts expected to occur due to the development include land acquisition, air and dust pollution, removal of trees and vegetation, noise pollution, loss of flora, and other impacts on ecology and water resources. Various environmental effects are anticipated during the planning and design, construction, and operation stages. But neglecting all these warnings, the project is still continuing at a rapid pace.

Around 2572 trees were cut down in Uttarakhand and 8588 in the Saharanpur district of UP to make this expressway. And these orders were approved by the respective governments despite the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issuing notice in which they impleaded not to proceed with the cutting down of trees.

Environmental Impact of Asia's Largest Wildlife Elevated Corridor Dehradun

The report also suggested several mitigation measures for every impact. For example, the mitigation measures proposed for the environmental effects of dust pollution include a regular sprinkling of water, covering of dumpers carrying construction materials and use of PUC certified vehicles, etc. Let us hope that these measures will be carried out and the environmental impacts will be acceptable in Asia’s most extensive wildlife elevated corridor.

 

Author

  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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