Ghat stretch poses a risk to wildlife

Arterial roads in East Godavari agency have underwent a sea change in recent years, with the quality at par with highways.

However, a downside to this is that motorists are now driving at reckless speeds, endangering both themselves as well as the wildlife that dots the region. Though there are records of people getting killed in accidents, there are no records to track the number of animals being killed in accidents.

Protecting wildlife from frequently becoming roadkill is now a major challenge for officials of the forest department. The Maredumilli ghat road, an arterial route connecting Rajamahendravaram with Bhadrachalam in neighbouring Telangana, traverses through the Agency area. A large number of motorists take the Chinturu route from Maredumilli to reach Chhattisgarh and Odisha, and traffic remains

high on this route throughout the day.

A 30-km stretch of this road has been identified as an accident zone, with a number of vehicles falling into the valley leading to deaths and injuries. Absence of a retaining wall is said to be a major reason behind the accidents.

The two-lane ghat road passes through a dense forest, home to endangered species like gaurs and leopards. Animals crossing the road at night are at the risk of being run over by heavy vehicles and forest officials are mulling remedial measures.

"We are chalking out strategies in a way that development and wildlife protection go hand in hand. We can’t stop developing the road network that improves the living conditions of the tribal population. At the same time, we can’t compromise on the safety of wild animals," said Anant Shankar, DFO (Wildlife). The department has already proposed curbs on vehicular movement on the ghat road during night, so as to ensure safe passage of animals in the woods.

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