At a time when widening of national highways through forested areas and wildlife corridors has attracted court cases and intense debates, the ministry of road transport and highways informed the Parliament on Monday that stray animals crossing national highways caused 7,734 accidents between 2012-2014. Member of Parliament from Trinamool Congress Mohammad Nadimul Haque asked the question and the ministry through a written reply informed that 2013 saw 3103, the highest accident cases due to stray animals in the given duration.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ministry though did not specify the number of national highways that are fenced inadequately or even the human and animal casualties recorded because of these accidents. As per the road ministry’s information, Uttar Pradesh recorded the maximum accident cases at 1,865 followed by Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.Across the country, many existing national highways cut through forested areas and along protected areas such as tiger reserves and national parks. Wild animals such as elephants, deers, nilgai, leopards and even tigers often cross these highways in forested areas, resulting in road accidents. Expert studies and papers published in scientific journals have shown that these animals usually cross over in search of food, to go into other habitats and for water. Studies on NH-69 and NH-7 connecting Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have shown that spotted deers have often got killed due to collision with vehicles. The high-speed of vehicular traffic and lack of underpasses and overpasses on highway stretches has made forested areas prone to accidents.Through 2015, the National Highways Authority of India was drawn into a major court battle on the widening of NH-7 as wildlife activists protested against the project. The project involves widening of the highway through the Kanha-Pench tiger corridor and after directions from the National Green Tribunal and Nagpur high court, the NHAI has agreed to build underpasses and overpasses to protect wildlife along the highway.

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Animals crossing highways have led to 7,734 accidents between 2012-2014