Eco Bridges

Eco-ducts or eco-bridges are structures that are constructed to enhance wildlife connectivity that can be disrupted because of highways.  Such eco-bridges can end the accidents occurring due to the crossing of animals on the highway.

Key Points

  • These include canopy bridges, concrete underpasses, viaducts, overpass tunnels, amphibian tunnels, and culverts among others.
  • The distribution of the Eco-bridges depends on the pattern of animal movement. Larger and Smaller bridges are built for different animals.
  • Such bridges can help in creating connections between plant and animal populations and also keep the animals in their natural habitat which otherwise would have been disrupted due to the construction of a highway.

Uttarakhand gets 1st Eco Bridge

  • Ramnagar Forest Division in Nainital district, Uttarakhand, has recently built its first eco-bridge for reptiles and smaller mammals like snakes, monitor lizards, squirrels.
  • This is the state’s first eco-bridge built across the Kaladhungi- Nainital Highway.
  • The eco-bridge has a length of 90 feet and a width of 5 feet.
  • It will help the small animals to cross the roads easily without the fear of vehicles.

This eco-bridge on the highway has been built with the use of eco-friendly materials like grass, bamboo, ropes, etc. No cement and iron have been used for the construction of the bridge.

Requirement of Eco-bridges in India: Study

As per a study by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), around 50,000 road projects are to be constructed in India in the coming 5 to 6 years. Along with this, there are also projects for upgrading highways to 4 lanes. This will disturb the natural habitat in many places due to construction work. According to National Tiger Conservation Authority, three major sites are cutting across animal corridors-State Highway 33 through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, the National Highway 37 through the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape in Assam, and Kaladhungi-Nainital Highway. This problem of disturbing animal-plant habitat can only be solved through eco-bridges.

Progress and Challenges

The challenges for Eco Bridge are that how many animals use them. However, as of now, monkeys are the ones who use them very easily. One of the largest underpasses for animal protection in the country, which is 1.4km long, is being built along the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border. Other proposed eco-bridges/underpasses are in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, and in the Hosur-Krishnagiri segment of the Chennai-Bangalore National Highway for elephant crossings.

Written by IAS POINT

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