A 75-kilometre road which runs from Ekal to Bambhanka has been given a provisional nod by the National Board for Wildlife(NBWL), connecting Khadir island with Bhachau taluka in Kutch. The planned road will be passing through Kutch desert sanctuary, known habitat of the Indian wild ass, an endangered species, according to the IUCN. The long-pending proposal for the road was in contention for more than a decade. When a portion of the Great Rann of Kutch was declared a sanctuary, the dirt track which served as a thoroughfare for villagers living in the 11 adjacent villages to travel between Khadir and Bhachau, was imposed with travel restrictions. This resulted in the people of Khadir to travel 170 km through Rapar, to visit towns, amounting to more than 100 km of extra distance covered. The proposal for the new route has been passed by the NBWL(with the Prime Minister of India as an ex-officio chairman) with a few conditions. ” The project will have to ensure that the road does not hamper the movement of wild animals and flow of water. While we are yet to finalise a wildlife mitigation plan for the area, we shall ask the project proponent to construct underpasses so those wild asses can move across the road and culverts for the flow of water. We shall also suggest elevated sections so that water and wild animals can move freely from one side of the road to the other” said Gyanendra Sinha, PCCF and chief wildlife warden of Gujarat. The width of the proposed road has been reduced by the NBWF from 36metres to 12 metres, with a 7-metre wide carriageway, bringing down land requirements considerably. The proposed route will start at Ekal village in Khadir island and connect it to Bambhanka town in Bhachau taluka, connecting 11 border villages with a population of over 10,000, and will be only a 75kms stretch of roadway with only 19.5 km of intrusion in the Kutch desert sanctuary. Since the route in the sanctuary is completely submerged during monsoons, an all-weather road has been proposed. This is the third major project regarding infrastructure which has been passed with regard to the Kutch wildlife sanctuary. The earlier two projects include the Kutch branch of the Narmada canal and a national highway from western Kutch to Patan district which passes through the sanctuary.
As reported by The Indian Express