The night travel ban along the Bandipur-Mudumalai and Bandipur-Sultan Bathery road stretches have hit passengers and bus operators alike, besides affecting the livelihood of hundreds of traders.
The ban, which is in force for quite some time, has witnessed the number of passengers travelling along the sector by night plummeting and vehicles shifting operation to other sectors. Travellers from Kochi and parts of northern Kerala who used to board the long distance buses in the evening to reach Bangalore and Mysore have been forced to seek alternative travel modes and routes following the ban. The vehicular movement along the roads was banned at nightfall for protecting the wildlife from speeding vehicles.
While the option of rail travel is available for the Bangalore-bound passengers, it is not the case with those travelling to Mysore. The absence of direct rail connectivity to Mysore had increased the travel travails of passengers in the sector, said Najeeb Shahul, administrative manager of a group which has been operating a few luxury coaches in the Bangalore and Mysore routes.
The vehicles from the Kerala side would be blocked at Muthanga near Sultan Bathery and ones from Bangalore at Gundalpettu. The night travel along the Ootty- Malappuram- Perinthalmanna- Mysore route was also blocked at Gudallur, said Mr. Shahul.
The Bangalore-bound passengers from Kochi have the option of reaching their destination via Salem avoiding the forest route.
Though the bus operators tried to take Mysore-bound passengers through Kutta, avoiding the forest travel, it turned out to be an unviable proposition. Travel along the bad roads proved costly to vehicles as some met with accidents due to bad road conditions. The operators were thus forced to drop the scheme, he said.
The number of luxury buses operating in the Mysore route has come down to around 40 from the earlier 250 reflecting the fall in number of passengers. The State-owned transport corporations of Kerala and Karnataka too were hit by the ban and had to reschedule their operations.
KSRTC too hit
Officials at the Kochi depot of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) said that they inform the passengers in the sectors about the travel restrictions in advance. The buses camp at Muthanga by the nightfall to resume the travel at day break. The number of passengers had also come down along the routes, he said.