This Article is From Mar 25, 2015

Thousands of Trees Being Chopped for Highway Without Clearance, Say Activists

A fourth of India's tiger population is in central India.

Pench Forest, Maharashtra:

Wildlife experts say the road widening has been planned right in the middle of a lush green forest near the Pench Tiger Reserve, in a region that's home to over 100 tigers. In just a 10 km stretch, over 2,000 trees will be cut in what is the only migration corridor for tigers in central India, connecting Pench to Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Nagzira, Navegaon and to the forests further south.

"The tree felling has been cleared by the union environment ministry and the state government has issued a working permit on February 11. This permit threatens trees along a 37 km stretch between Mansar and Khawasa," said Prafulla Bhamburkar, Advisor, Central India tiger conservation project.

Activists also point out, however, that the National Green Tribunal had ruled that a working permission is not enough for projects like this. The Wildlife Protection Act has safeguards against damage to tiger habitat and areas that connect protected areas for ecologically unsustainable projects.  A fourth of India's tiger population is in central India.

The Supreme Court-appointed Centrally Empowered Committee was against the road widening and had proposed a different route, says Mr Bhamburkar. The National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Wildlife Institute of India and the National Board for Wildlife had backed the alternative route.