RAJKOT: Gujarat's first cable-stayed bridge built over a sea creek in Bhavnagar may have helped the business boom with better connectivity to the city. But, barely 14 kms away, the road connecting this bridge is turning into a graveyard for the endangered blackbucks around the Velavadar Blackbuck National Park.
Over the last one month, speeding vehicles have killed seven blackbucks on the five-km stretch between Khetakhatli to Kalatalav village.
As many as 30 villages in Bhal region - considered the wheat bowl of the state - use this road to reach Bhavnagar faster. As per the 2010 population estimates, there were 3,950 blackbucks in and around the national park. Blackbucks are protected under Schedule-1 of Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
"This area where the seven blackbucks were killed by speeding vehicles is one of the 32 proposed eco-sensitive zones outside the blackbuck sanctuary," said D P Vaghela, assistant conservator of forests, Velavadar.
The forest department has requested the roads and buildings department to construct speed breakers on this stretch to lessen the blackbuck casualties. "Until the road was rebuilt, blackbucks were accustomed to movement of two-wheelers as well as presence of human beings. But now we are seeing trucks and other heavy vehicles on this stretch," said I R Gadhvi, president, Dharmkumarsinhji Nature Conservation Society in Bhavnagar.
King of the jungle in peril
The tragedy in Bhavangar should serve as a reminder to the Gujarat government which is planning a ring-road around the Gir sanctuary, the only home of the Asiatic lions in the wild. Environmentalists have already sounded an alarm over the proposal which will put the lives of the king of the jungle in peril.