Night Safari Survey signals cutting of 1,500+ trees at Kukrail - Hindustan Times
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Night Safari Survey signals cutting of 1,500+ trees at Kukrail

By, Lucknow
May 30, 2024 08:38 PM IST

The divisional forest officer, Lucknow, Sitanshu Pandey, said that an existing road through the forest, about 3 to 5 metres in width, will be extended to 15 metres.

Amidst the city hitting peak summer, plans to chop over 1,500 trees for a connecting road to the upcoming Kukrail Night Safari are underway. In a pre-joint survey concluding this weekend, a team of forest department and public works department officials is determining the areas for the road from the city to the proposed night safari.

Kukrail forest in Lucknow, during a fine winter morning (Subhankar Chakraborty/HT Fike)
Kukrail forest in Lucknow, during a fine winter morning (Subhankar Chakraborty/HT Fike)

The divisional forest officer, Lucknow, Sitanshu Pandey, said that an existing road through the forest, about 3 to 5 metres in width, will be extended to 15 metres.

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“The road winds through the Scorpio Club area, via Kukrail Guest House to CIMAP near Khurram Nagar Chauraha,” said Pandey. He also said that for all the trees that will be chopped for this purpose, according to the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, ten times that many will be planted. The official order for the construction is yet to be issued.

It is also yet to be decided where this compensatory afforestation will take place, as the aforementioned act allows for it to be done in any part of the country. However, the DFO said that it “will probably be in Lucknow itself.”

However, a section of Lucknowites have expressed their concerns over the move. A Lucknow-based environmental scholar said, “There is a need to regrow degraded forest areas and nurture those reserve forest areas which already exist and have good forest cover - there should not be tree cutting in these areas. Earlier, east and west Kukrail used to be joined, and now there are already roads which have fragmented the forest and disturbed it.”

An office has been created for the director of the Kukrail Night Safari project, which is handling the process of acquiring permission from the Supreme Court to erect the safari at Kukrail, according to the interim order passed in February this year. The bench declared that the Supreme Court’s permission would be required to construct any zoo or safari in a forest area. The Director’s office shared that an application has been filed to the Court, and the process is underway.

It has been decided that the Public Works Department will allocate upwards of 9 hectares of land for the afforestation project, and the dividers on the newly constructed roads will also be adorned with trees and plants. “The road will be 10.51 kilometres long. We have extended the team by two staffers so as to finish it within the next two days,” said Pandey.

According to experts, this move would not only deal a blow to the green cover of the city but further, the shifting of the zoo may put the animals and forest ecosystem at risk. Umashankar Singh, former principal chief conservator of forests, said, “While the loss of green cover is certainly an issue, it is only one part of the larger picture. Shifting an entire zoo has many repercussions that need to be considered,” he said. “Is it suitable for the animals being shifted? Do they run the risk of contracting infections?”

“There is a global conversation on whether zoos and safaris are even necessary, and if we should instead create in-situ and ex-situ conservatories. I do not support this move to make the safari and chop down trees to do it at all,” Singh added.

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