For Children of a Lesser God: Uttarakhand’s eco-bridge

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Dateline Nainital: On your normal day, the Kaladhungi-Nainital highway, falling within the Ramnagar forest division is crawling with traffic. Next time you are there, do take time to notice a unique wildlife passage in the shape of a 90-foot (27 meter) over-head bridge made from locally procured materials like bamboo, jute and grass.

Built over a hairpin bend, the ‘Eco-bridge’ has come up to offer hope of a safer passage to smaller animals like turtles, snakes, squirrels, monkeys, monitor lizards, porcupines, ant-eaters that abound in the area’s Sal forest floor that hunches around the forever busy highway.

This wildlife crossing has been put up to prevent smaller animals that are often impossible to see from being run over by vehicle drivers on their way up to or coming down from Nainital. Within weeks of being put up, the bridge has already become a selfie point for tourists and travellers.

The man behind this unique mission, DFO Chander Shekhar Joshi tells Newspost, ‘It took us ten days to put the Eco-bridge together. We are now working on creating a micro climate around the bridge and make it seem as natural as possible with creepers and plants blending in with the passage” adding, “Two camera traps on either side of the bridge have been fixed to monitor animal movement.’

Of course it is way too early in the day to say how well this effort will work or the fruit it will bear, but forest officials are hoping that this novel eco-bridge will, to some extent, create an awareness amongst those who drive along the busy Kaladhungi-Nainital highway. They hope that the areas dense flora and fauna that presently lies neglected will attract the attention of new admirers. And if successful, the Eco-bridge will be replicated all over the hill state and will go a long way to protect the lesser-known assets of the place.