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NHAI to construct four wildlife underpasses on NH-6

Friday, 22 Jan 2021
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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has floated tenders for wildlife underpasses on NH-6 (NH-53) in the forest patches left out between Sakoli and Deori in Bhandara and Gondia districts. 
The bids will open on 29 January 2021. The tenders were floated in December 2020, as per recommendations from NTCA &the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun and orders by Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. 
There will be three underpasses of 750 mtr and one of 700 mtr with five metre height in four critical patches. Moreover, there will be 26 culverts. 
Construction of the project will be completed in 730 days after issuing work permits. The project will entail an investment of Rs 540 crore.
The underpasses will be built at Patch-I between Sirpur-Navatola (700 mtr), Patch-VI Maramjob-Dongargaon (750 mtr), Patch-VIII Bamhni-Duggipar (750 mtr) and Patch-X Sakoli-Mundipar (750 mtr). 
These patches connect seven vital tiger populations of Central Indian Tiger Landscape Complex. 
This wildlife corridor connects Melghat, Satpura, Pench, Kanha, Navegaon-Nagzira, Indravati, and Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserves. 
The initial report of WII submitted in 2012 had recommended 1,500-2,000 mtr wildlife underpasses in 10 forest patches but NHAI did not agree due to cost constraints. 
The High Court later took up the matter of NH-6 (Mumbai-Kolkata) & NH-7 (Varanasi-Kanyakumari) simultaneously. 
The Regional Empowered Committee (REC) okayed the proposal in January 2019 and Stage-I clearance was granted in March 2019. Over 50.68 ha of forest land will be diverted for the project.
A joint survey was conducted by NHAI and WII in January 2020 on REC’s order. The proposal was submitted before REC and approved on 24 February 2020. 
The NHAI proposal has been approved with a suggestion to develop separate nurseries to raise at least 50,000 seedlings of native species. It was suggested that 50 percent of these seedlings must be used for plantations in the vicinity of the project area and distribute the remaining free of cost. 
Under Phase-III, NHAI undertook to upgrade the two-lane road to four between Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh border up to Wainganga bridge from ch 405 km-485 km with 60 mtr right-of-way throughout the stretch. 
Of the entire project length of 80 km, 23.85 km of road passes through 10 dense forest patches. Some of these patches were completed by NHAI without taking mitigation steps.
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