National Board for Wildlife has refused approval for the proposed cabin ropeway at Ratnagiri hills in Rajgir, claiming that additional land cannot be given for the ambitious project.
“The proposal for constructing a new cabin-type ropeway at Ratnagiri hills in Rajgir has been rejected by the National Board for Wildlife. They have asked the government to explore the possibility of utilising the alignment of the existing ropeway for installing any new facility,” said Dipak Kumar Singh, secretary, department of environment and forests.
The forests department notified Ratnagiri hills, the site of the new project, to Pant Wildlife Sanctuary in 1988. According to the notification, any new construction requires approval from the forests department and other authorities. Wildlife experts claim that using extra land in the sanctuary for installing the new ropeway is not necessary.
“Even if a six-meter-wide alignment is used for installing the new ropeway, it would affect a stretch of around 2km inside the sanctuary. However, according to norms, a wildlife sanctuary should not be disturbed too much for non forest-related purposes,” said Rakesh Kumar Singh, a Delhi-based national wildlife expert.
However, it is unlikely that the existing ropeway would be removed or modified for the new construction. The government wants to preserve the existing ropeway, with 101 chairs at a height of 1,000ft, as a heritage structure. It was gifted by Japan around 40 years ago.
The proposal for the construction of the new ropeway has been stuck for five years.
Forests department secretary Singh said the rejected proposal for the new ropeway has been returned to the tourism department.
Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation sources said they would approach the National Board for Wildlife to get approval for the project with some modifications to the original plan.
The state wildlife board had given its nod for the proposed ropeway project in February 2012 after which it was sent to the National Board for Wildlife.
The detailed project report for the new project in Rajgir has been prepared by Rail India Technical and Economic Service Limited, which has given an estimated cost of Rs 10.5 crore over a period of 2.5 years.