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| Last Updated:03/02/2020

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State Govt affidavit before NGT on proposed tunnel near Deepor Beel

AJIT PATOWARY

There are five elephant corridors used by the pachyderms of Garbhanga forest for crossing the railway line to reach the Deepor Beel.

 

The tunnel proposed to be constructed between Rail Gate No. 273 and 274 will provide the elephants safe access to the Deepor Beel only in two corridors – tower corridors – while the other three corridors will still expose the elephants to the risk of being knocked down/run over by running locomotives, said the State government in its affidavit before the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

 

The State government also mentioned that three alternatives have been suggested by experts to avoid infringement of the elephant corridors by the railway line between Azara and Kamakhya railway stations.

 

According to the experts, of these three alternatives, the realignment or northern alignment of the rail track outside Deepor Beel is stated to be the most suitable, the State government mentioned in its affidavit.

 

This has been stated by the State government in its latest affidavit before the NGT in Original Application No. 472/2018, Rohit Choudhury versus Union of India and Others on the issue of identification of the proposed sites for setting up of the Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility (ISWMF) for the Guwahati capital region and protection of elephant corridors by the northern alignment of the rail track outside Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

In its affidavit, the State government said that the proposed tunnel between Rail Gate Nos. 273 and 274 will not provide safe access to the elephants to Deepor Beel at Matia, Mikirpara, Senguri and Bhangrathan Mandir.

 

The observations provided in the State government’s affidavit are based on the findings of the joint visit/survey of the Deepor Beel carried out by a team of experts at the beel’s municipal solid waste dumping site, besides beel area comprising the elephant corridors, including entry and exit points of the beel, etc.

 

The experts who carried out the survey suggested that instead of constructing the tunnel between Rail Gate No. 273 and 274, the better solution will be to bypass all five elephant corridors by realignment of the railway line outside the Deepor Beel as has been proposed by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) based on the feasibility report of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited (DIMTS).

 

The DIMTS in its feasibility report titled ‘Feasibility Study for Alternative Alignments to Avoid Elephant Corridors between Azara and Kamakhya stations, February, 2019 – examined three alternatives and came to the conclusion that the most suitable alternative would be realignment/northern alignment of the rail track outside the Deepor Beel. The DIMTS feels that this will completely avoid the accident-prone areas for the elephants, besides leaving the entire Deepor Beel and other major habitations unaffected.

 

However, with regard to the realignment of the railway line on this stretch, the affidavit of the Railways is awaited, the State government said.

 

Source: The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, Friday, January 31, 2020