Threat posed by the proposed new roadway to Sikkim through Neora Valley N.P. sign now


Her Excellency, Dated 4th Day of March, 2011
The Honorable President of India.

Sub: Threat posed by the proposed new roadway to Sikkim through Neora Valley N.P.

Respected Madam,

This is to bring your kind attention to the fact that, the recent proposal of the Indian Army regarding the construction of a new roadway to Sikkim through the pristine forests of Neora Valley N.P. has raised a red light alarm in the minds of millions of like minded Indians like us.
Such a construction will not jeopardise the existence of one of the last remaining pristine hill forests of the country but will also have a devastating effect on the unique bio-diversity that this region holds in its bounty.

We are of the opinion that there is ample scope for the Indian Army to sketch out a third alternative route into Sikkim without disturbing (if not destroying) this unique and fragile eco-system of the Eastern Himalayas as one old cart road already exists from Bagrakote to Rhenok in Sikkim via Chuikhim Nimbong Kaffer.

Several like minded Indians irrespective of their fields of work, passion or otherwise have unanimously opined for the protection of this rich bio-diverse habitat for a safer and better India.

We have hereunder jotted down not only the major threats that pose out of this proposed construction but have also defined specifically, how the goal of the Army to reach the India-China international border can be achieved without causing damage to the mentioned patch of the pristine hill forests of West Bengal.

Major Threats posed by the proposal of the Indian Army to construct an alternative road to Sikkim through the Neora-Valley N.P.

The proposed route of the Indian army will pass along the Eastern Boundary of the Chapramari WLS for a stretch of 4 kms which will disturb the regular or seasonal movements of mammals like the Indian Rhinoceros (Schedule I), Asiatic Elephant (Schedule I) and the Gaur (Schedule I) along with other smaller mammals across the adjacent eco-sensitive forests of the Jalpaiguri Division.

The route will cut through the Rachela Comp. No. 13 of the Neora Valley N.P. which is not only a prime wilderness zone but also a part of the core of the N.P. and Rhenok Comp. No. 5 and Rhenok Comp. No. 4b which are also another important wildlife habitat of the National Park.

The Northern boundary of Neora Valley N.P. through which the proposed route cuts, is a part of contiguous forests tract with the Pangolakha WLS in Sikkim and Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve in Bhutan and forms a unique hill Eco-system of the Eastern Himalayas being the home to more than 31 species of Mammals, 265 species of birds, 300 species of insects and 38 species of other invertebrates.

The forest area which the proposed route is supposed to cut through is known to be the home of the Bengal Tiger, Red Panda, Leopard, Wild Dog, Serow, Marbled Cat, Clouded Leopard; all of which are Schedule I animals according to the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

The Neora Valley N.P. is one of the most important Bird Area (IBA) of Eastern India, falling within the restricted Range Species site the Eastern Bird Area, Eastern Himalayas and the Restricted Assemblages Biomes, Sino Himalayan Temperate Forest and Sino Himalayan Subtropical forest. It is home to many rare species of Avi-fauna like the Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, Wards Trogon, Long-billed wren Babbler, Sikkim Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Rusty-bellied Shortwing and so on. Any kind of disturbance in any kind of form like road construction might bring forth the local extinction of many rare species of birds.

The Neora Valley National Park is a Botanists paradise. The Floral diversity of this PA can rarely be matched with any other in the country.

The ultimate threat however remains in destruction of the Tiger Habitat which is a burning issue in the present wildlife conservation scenario of the country.
While so much amount of funds have been involved in the resurrection of the Tiger status in our forests with the Prime Minister short listing it as one of the important crisis of the country, it makes no sense how can such a proposal be approved by allowing a roadway to be constructed destroying the remaining Tiger habitat in the hills forests of West Bengal.

The only reason why the tiger still thrives in the hill forests of Neora Valley National Park and its adjacent forest areas is inaccessibility; which results in an undisturbed forest. The construction of the proposed roadway will not only destroy the tiger habitat but will also disturb the same resulting in an unsuitable environment for the animal and its existence.

Such a loss will be permanent and can never be replicated.

As Indians we are all concerned about the security of the country; but we must not forget that Environmental Security is also an element of our National security and we must defend our Natural causes with the same intent as we defend our geographical boundaries.

Alternative Road:-

The Indian Army has a viable alternative in constructing the third alternative road into Sikkim along the Bagrakot-Chuikhim-Nimbong-Kafer-Bakhim-Algarah-Rhenok route where an unmetalled road already exists. This will not only minimize the impact on the forests as well as on biodiversity but will also save millions of our National Exchequer.

This is an earnest prayer and a humble request to you being the highest Chair of our country and also the Head of the Defense Forces to view the matter with urgency and take a positive step forward before it becomes too late for anyone to prevent this Great National Loss.

Thanking you in anticipation of necessary action in this regard;
Yours truly,

Biswapriya Rahut, Secretary,
Society for Preservation and Awareness of Wildlife & Nature

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