Transport
State of Environment Report of Tripura for the year of 2002

The State of Tripura with a recorded population of 31,91,168 (2001) in an area of 10,491.69 sq. km is yet to built up an effective system of transportation. For a total of 962 Gram Panchayat and 16 towns/ notified area, the state has 333 km of National Highway, 454 km of major district roads and 1463 km of other district roads and 3652 km of village roads. Besides road communication, the railway line is currently confined to only 44.72 km in this land locked State of North East India (Tripura at Glance, 2001). Considering the entire network of road, the total road length stands at 15,177 km in 2000-2001. Of these, 3523 km are black topped, 2589 km are brick soled and 9065 km are earthen (Table-71).

Table-71 : Nature of Roads in the State

Sl. No.

Nature of Roads (According to surface)

Length (in km)

1.

Black topped

3523

2.

Brick soled

2589

3

Earthen

9065

Total

15,177

The number of vehicles, as per available figure is rather low in public transport system with only 1349 vehicles for 3.1 million people; the cargo transport system shows 5484 lorries; other categories of vehicle are reported to be 43,306 (2000-2001) (Table-72).

Table-72 : District wise number of Vehicles in the State

The impact of road transport in the air quality data of four district town (besides the contribution from other sources) has been dealt elsewhere. However future transport network need to be planned with systematic environmental impact study.

Indian Railways have made a proposal to extend the railway line from Kumarghat in North Tripura to Agartala, the capital city. The 120 km long Railway line is supposed to follow Assam Agartala road. The proposed alignment necessities permanent diversion of 365 ha of forest land for non-forest purposes. A brief EIA report submitted by North East Frontier Railway along with outline of the Project, in March 1998, reveals that 60% of the land to be acquired will be forest land and point out to the possibility of:

        Landslip         Surface erosion         Slope failure         Destruction of 350 ha of forest         Noise level change.

The construction will involve cutting of 6186 RM tunnel. The EIA report however appears to be short of details and a very sketchy rapid appraisal without any hard data.

The major concern for such project will be the impacts on Forest and Wildlife. A detailed comprehensive four season impact assessment report is essential before any public investment is made. The inventory of forest resources and biodiversity value of the forest area of more than 600 ha need a detailed study to arrive at a realistic cost-benefit assessment.

It is surprising that in spite of other alternatives the NE Rly. authority had chosen the proposed path of alignment. The hydrogeological study and structural geology of the area also calls for detailed investigation.

The necessity of Railway network not withstanding, public investment can only be made with minimum damage to the environmental resources. It appears that EIA notification of 1994 under EPA, 1986 does not call for mandatory exercise for Railways, which itself appears arbitrary. The environmental impact of Railways project elsewhere (Konkan Rly.; Panvel-Karjat BG line in Western Rly.) have been given due consideration even without EIA stipulation.

The loss of biodiversity and degradation of natural ecosystem calls for a realistic, scientific assessment with regard to environmental goods and services and possible cost of mitigatory measures due to long term impact of project erroneously conceived and implemented. Apparently, such efforts are totally lacking.

For instance, the railway authorities has submitted a statement showing the number of trees required to be felled at four different sectors of the proposed broad gauge line. It mentions only about plantation forestry of three species besides plantation crop like Rubber, Coffee and Cashewnut. Obviously 650 ha of forest land does not contain only plantation forest or other cash crops but inventory of wild flora, shrubs, herbs, bamboo, cane and associated fauna is sadly missing. Even the plantation forest and other crops excluding Coffee will need removal of nearly 0.15 million trees in the proposed line of alignment (Table-73).

Table- 73 : Clear failing of trees of proposed Railway project

Sl. No.

Name of Trees

Number

A.

Kumarghat-Manu Sector

1.

Teak

5945

2.

Gamari & Sal

4130

3.

Rubber

7434

4.

Cashewnut

1549

B.

Manu-Ambasa Sector

1.

Teak

29868

2.

Gamari & Sal

20741

3.

Rubber

6222

4.

Coffee

??

C.

Ambasa-Teliamura Sector

1.

Teak

40715

2.

Gamari & Sal

15807

D.

Teliamura-Jirania Sector

1.

Teak

8350

2.

Gamari & Sal

2903

3.

Rubber

2714

4.

Cashewnut

2261

 

[Source: TSPCB, 2001]

 

 
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