The pristine mangrove habitat of Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh state of South India is home to the endangered Fishing Cat and many other species like the Smooth-coated Indian Otter as well as innumerable number of migratory birds. However, laying a pucca road inside the core area of the sanctuary defeats the purpose of minimizing human interactions with the elusive Fishing Cat. The sanctuary falls under the purview of Avanigedda Forest Range in the Wildlife Management Wing of Eluru. A 2.6 kilometer long tar road is being laid illegally near Hamsaladeevi area by the Panchayat Raj Department with full support from higher officials of the district administration. The authorities allegedly say that this road will be used by pilgrims for the upcoming "Krishna Pushkaras"- a religious ritual where people take holy dip in the river mouth. Unfortunately, the officials involved in this unauthorized activity do not care about the rules. This is a clear violation of Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules! The construction of a road inside wildlife sanctuary needs green clearance from the National Wildlife Board and the Forest Department of Andhra Pradesh.
Despite the best efforts of the State Forest Department to stop the unlawful activity, the Panchayat Raj Department continues to lay the road with complete disregard to the irreversible damage caused to the wetlands which are prime habitat for the Fishing Cat. The cat species is also protected under Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife Act on par with the Bengal Tiger.
Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society appeals to the Supreme Court of India to urgently address the issue and take immediate measures so as to ensure the protection of an endangered species and it’s rapidly depleting wetlands!