This is the 4th time activists from across Karnataka protested the lifting of the night traffic ban and proposed multiple elevated corridors project which will cut through the reserve.

Activists protest govt plan for night traffic elevated corridor in Bandipur reserve
news Protest Saturday, October 27, 2018 - 14:56

A day-long protest was held at the entrance of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Maddur Gate on Saturday against lifting the night traffic ban in the tiger reserve and the elevated highway proposed in the forest area.

The protest was held by environmentalists from Karnataka who want the state government to reject the Centre's proposal to lift the existing night traffic ban in the area. The activists are also staunchly opposed to the multiple elevated corridors project, a part of the Bharatmala project on National Highway 212 since it cuts through the core forest area.

Speaking to The News Minute from the protest site, environmentalist Joseph Hoover said, “We do not want the night ban to be lifted nor do we want elevated corridors or barricades on any of the roads. The road is shut only for nine hours and even then few buses and emergency services can use the road. We want to ask why they are insisting on the ban on the road to be lifted," he said.

This is the fourth protest being held against the lifting of the night traffic ban. The first was held on October 11 in Mysuru in front of the Deputy Commissioner's office while the second was held at Melkamanahalli Arch in the entry to the forest on October 20. A third protest was held three days ago in Channapatna. Several environmental groups have come under one banner - United Conservation Movement - to protest and are now planning to take the protests to Bengaluru next.

The protests also come at a time the National Green Tribunal (NGT) rapped the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for not maintaining mandatory green cover along highways and allowing construction along highways.

Read: No elevated corridor through Bandipur forest: Activists to protest Central govt proposal

Currently, only 16 Karnataka buses, 8 Kerala buses and emergency vehicles are allowed in the stretch of forest area between 9 pm and 6 am. The ban was introduced in 2009 and was supported by both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The state of Kerala and the Centre, however, are in favour of lifting the ban.

The protests have intensified ever since reports emerged that the Karnataka government is mulling changing its stance. The official stance of the government remains in favour of the night traffic ban however, sources told TNM that an influential minister from the state held discussions with two Kerala MLAs in Wayanad recently. The timber mafia and private transport industry are also in favour of lifting the ban.

The ban was introduced in 2009 when the Karnataka High Court was hearing a case pertaining to roadkills of at least 215 animals between 2004 and 2007. Animals including tigers and elephants cross the road in the forest area at night.

Recently, on the Hunsur main road, a bus rammed into an elephant 'Ranga' leading to his death. The incident occurred in the early hours of October 8 in Nagarhole.

Read: Speeding bus kills Rowdy Ranga, 46-year-old elephant, near Nagarhole forest

The Bandipur and Nagarhole tiger reserves are 90 km apart in the southern part of Karnataka.


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