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Villagers made a local route through sensitive area of Rajaji National Park

Around a month after a forest road connecting several local villages was closed in a crucial elephant corridor of Uttarakhand, Chilla Motichur, villagers, citing inconvenience, took matters into their own hands and built a 1- km kaccha road. The villagers said they needed the road to avoid a 6-km detour to take their children to school. They added that they had kept forest officials in the loop regarding the road construction. Authorities, however, dismissed the villagers' claim, saying they were not informed of the construction, and it was done to facilitate illegal activities like poaching, mining, and drug trafficking.
"We have dug out the road and increased patrolling in the area to ensure no one uses it," said Mahender Giri, range officer, Motichur, Rajaji Tiger Reserve. Dinesh Pandey, a wildlife conservationist who previously worked as the honorary wildlife warden on Nainital, said, "The complaint of inconvenience in sending kids to school seems untrue. Also, several villagers were complicit in illegal activities, which closure of the route must have put an end to."
He added, "The flyover has a check post, which would make illegal activities impossible in the area. This means trouble for mining, poaching, and drug mafia. The hotel lobby may also be behind these complaints as pilgrims of the Kanwar and Char Dham Yatra earlier used to stay in Haripur Kalan- based guest houses. Now, they can cross the village through the flyover and save travel time, which hurts the business interests of local hoteliers."
Meanwhile, wildlife experts expressed concern that movement in the sensitive zone could jeopardize the state's ambitious "tiger translocation" Project. Starting in December 2020, the project aims to relocate tigers from Corbett reserve (which has an excess population of big cats) to Rajaji.
So far, two tigers have been moved. Any movement in the area may interfere with the process, leading the long-awaited project to fizzle out.
The corridor is significant as it allows free movement of wildlife by connecting western and eastern Rajaji as well as the forests of Lansdowne and Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR). The Motichur range is famous for its elephants, tigers, and leopards as well as several other wildlife species.

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