Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN

NAGPUR: In a pioneer initiative in Maharashtra state, the irrigation department has constructed a tiger crossing on the main canal close to Bor Wildlife Sanctuary in Wardha district, 60km from Nagpur.

The decision to construct wildlife crossings over irrigation canals, which have fragmented wildlife habitats, was fiercely debated at the seventh State Wildlife Board (SBWL) meeting held in Pune on January 24, 2013. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who heads the board, had asked irrigation department to discuss the issue with one of the members Kishor Rithe, who had raised it.

"Irrigation department officials were requested to take urgent action on wildlife corridors in the form of overpasses on canals etc. It was also made very clear that unless these measures were taken, no new proposals would be recommended in future," said Rithe.

As the irrigation department did not initially make any provisions for wildlife while constructing canals and dams, fragmentation of wildlife habitat caused trouble in Chandrapur-Nagpur landscape.

The new bridge is 21.80 m. long, 5.60 m. wide and 2.10m in height. Water discharge passes through this bridge. The top is covered with hard murum so that it looks like a natural way for tigers and wild animals.

The decision to construct a tiger crossing in Bor was a follow up of the SWBL meeting during which Rithe and others shared their knowledge of frequent deaths of tigers and other wildlife in this area mainly due to the construction of canals which resulted in the fragmentation of natural pathways and other routes.

After discussion, a committee was formed to conduct a site specific study and submit a report to the board. The tiger canal crossing at Bor is considered as a sequel to the SWBL debate.

Pench CCF & field director M S Reddy was happy that the irrigation department had at least made a start at saving wildlife.

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