Special Correspondent

MYSORE: The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bandipur, Raju, who recommended restricting the movement of vehicles through the Bandipur National Park between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., has been transferred.

Though it has been described as a routine transfer, along with nearly 20 other Indian Forest Service officers who have been reshuffled, the decision to transfer Mr. Raju comes close on the heels of pressure on the State Government to rescind the order which was considered an inconvenience to trade and commerce between Kerala and Karnataka and to travellers.

Sources said the order to restrict the movement of vehicles has the sanction of the law and is recognized as imperative to reduce animal deaths and habitat disturbance. But higher officials in the State Government were peeved that they were not kept informed of an important issue that would impact the State’s relationship with its neighbours.

Hence, the Chamarajanagar Deputy Commissioner Manoj Kumar Meena’s decision to restrict vehicle movement —which was subsequently rescinded — came as a surprise to the officials in Bangalore, who were subsequently confronted by their counterparts from Kerala as also the transport lobby. Mr. Raju was in the firing line ever since the controversy broke out.

However, the decision to transfer Mr. Raju, who has done a doctorate on wildlife issues and has more than 15 years of experience in the subject, has come as a shock to his colleagues. NGOs and other activists say Mr. Raju’s transfer will send negative signals to other officers in the State and it could prove to be a deterrent to conservation.