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A boon to wildlife, tribal people and exchequer

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A file photo of a tigress run over by a truck near Bandipur.
A file photo of a tigress run over by a truck near Bandipur.

Special Correspondent

No more traffic on Udbur-Bavali road in Nagarhole at night

Ban has been put in force between

6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Poachers use this road to smuggle forest produce

MYSORE: In what has been described as a unique gesture that will benefit wildlife, tribal people and the State Exchequer, the authorities have imposed curbs on the movement of vehicles from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the Udbur-Bavali road inside the Nagarahole National Park.

The decision to ban the movement of vehicles was taken following a proposal made by Sanjay Gubbi, Member, State Wildlife Advisory Board, at a meeting held recently. The authorities responded positively to the proposal.

In a release, Mr. Gubbi said those who used this road regularly, supported the decision to protect our natural heritage. He said the people and the authorities had recognised that the tourism industry was highly dependent on the Nagarahole and Bandipur tiger reserves and had realised that the movement of traffic on this road at night would be detrimental to their own long-term economic interests. However, there will be some relaxation on the use of the road for purposes such as medical emergencies and fire accidents. This initiative clearly shows that positive work can be done if officials and people worked in tandem, Mr. Gubbi added.

Extensively used

It was pointed out that the road was extensively used by tax evaders who brought in consumable goods from Kerala, which imposes lower taxes than Karnataka. Their selling such goods to shops in the State has led to Karnataka losing huge amounts of money in terms of taxes. Cattle were also being illegally transported from Karnataka to butcheries in Kerala on this road at night, and hence several pressure groups with vested interests, had in the past, opposed any ban on the movement of vehicles on this road.

But, they were later on perceived as outsiders without any locus standi on the issue.

Even the people of D.B. Kuppe, supported the 12-hour ban as they are not affected by it, said Mr. Gubbi. “The village is situated right on the border of Kerala and hence the people are dependent on Kerala for their economic sustenance and livelihood.

They visit H.D. Kote — which is the taluk headquarters and is at a considerable distance from their village — only for revenue-related matters.

Hence, opposition by a few pressure groups who raised the bogey of destroyed livelihoods, had little credence”, he added.

Welcoming the decision of the authorities, Mr. Gubbi said timber smugglers, wildlife poachers and other anti-social elements had till now taken advantage of the opening of this 12-km stretch at night to smuggle several lakhs worth valuable teak, rosewood, endangered wildlife produce such as tiger skin, elephant tusks, and meat of the deer, pig and other forest produce.

This road also falls in the crucial “elephant and tiger migratory corridor” that is used by wildlife to pass from Nagarahole to Bandipur forests. During summer, several elephants congregate on the banks of the Kabini dam backwaters, as water and food were in shortage in other parts of the forest. This road was a major hindrance in their movement, he added.

“The ban, it was said, would also reduce exploitation of tribal people by outsiders for carrying out illegal activities during night time. Many tribal women were also being abused at night on this road. This important decision should have a positive effect on the tribal people as well as on wildlife,” Mr. Gubbi said.

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