Scores of environmental activists gathered at Bengaluru’s Aranya Bhavan on Tuesday to register their protest against the Kerala government’s proposal to vacate the closure on night traffic through Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
The activists got support after Karnataka officials insisted that the ban in its current form should stay.
Officers from the Kerala Transport and Forest departments, their Karnataka and Tamil Nadu counterparts and those from the National Highways Authority of India, were due to meet at the venue on the issue of opening two stretches— Gundlupete-Wayanad and Gundlupete-Ooty on National Highway 212 for nocturnal traffic.
“This is probably the sixth time that the Kerala government is trying to run its buses at night through this stretch. Unlike the Tamil Nadu government which supports the cause of wild animals, the Kerala government does not seem to agree. We are happy that the Karnataka government which is a major stakeholder in the region chose to maintain the status quo,” a member of Eco Volunteers India Trust told TNM.
Activists fear that the opening of night traffic will pose a threat to wild animals and they might be killed by speeding automobiles. They said that the current traffic ban is based on a Karnataka High Court order of 2010.
They carried placards and photographs highlighting incidents of animals killed in road accidents to voice their opposition.
Placards carried by the activists read, “Forest is for Wildlife. Don’t lift night traffic ban” and also carried Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.
Meanwhile, pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj hijacked the peaceful protests by barging into the meeting between officials and reportedly asked the Kerala officers to leave.
Sources close to the forest department in the three states of Karnataka. Tamil Nadu and Kerala confirmed that they have also voiced their opposition to the proposed lifting of the ban on night traffic.