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Upcoming Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway to Feature First Flyovers For Wildlife in India

(Representative Image: Shutterstock)

(Representative Image: Shutterstock)

The construction for this expressway, which is expected to cut travel time from Mumbai to Nagpur to eight hours, is likely to be completed by December 2022.

In a bid to avert accidents caused due to wandering animals on highways and also to save them from getting mowed under the wheels, the Balasaheb Thackeray Samruddhi Mahamarg expressway will get nine green bridges and 17 underpasses for the safe movement of wildlife. According to a report by the Times of India, the 701 km long and 120 m wide expressway is being constructed between Nagpur and Mumbai.

The road passes through 10 districts of Maharashtra and 117 km of it also cuts across wildlife habitats, tiger corridors, and eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) of three sanctuaries. The expressway which cuts the travel time by two hours will witness cars speeding at up to 150 kmph. This makes it all the more important to make infrastructure like the green bridges to prevent any untoward incident.

Reportedly, a total of 1,797 structures will be constructed which include minor bridges, culverts, cart tracks, vehicle overpasses (VOPs), viaducts, minor and major bridges, tunnels, and canals among others. Apart from this, the leopard-proof fence will be installed along the highway to prevent animals from jumping onto the high-speed expressway.

Bilal Habib, a scientist with Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun told TOI that besides the other structure, 7 eco bridges in wildlife-focused areas (WFA) and 2 bridges outside WFA will be built. In addition, there will be 17 wildlife underpasses inside WFA and 25 outside it.

Habib highlighted that construction of such wildlife underpasses is important as several hillocks had to be cut while making the road. He said that these hillocks are often used by animals to move and thus the green bridges will ensure smooth wildlife movement.

“This is for the first time in the country that any highway will have so many wildlife structures and green bridges,” claimed RL Mopalwar, managing director of MSRDC, the agency building the expressway. Mopalwar further said that the structures are 32, 45, and 60 metres wide and some of them have also been completed.

Talking about the significance of the infrastructure, Suresh Chopne of the Regional Environment Committee (REC) said that it is a unique project which is needed for the future to save wildlife. He underscored that these can be used by carnivores and mammals and will prevent a vehicle-animal collision.

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first published:February 23, 2022, 16:36 IST