The Forest Department on Sunday completed inspection of an alternative route that will allow one to bypass Bandipur National Park.
This followed a directive issued by the Supreme Court to the Centre last week to respond to its suggestion on developing an alternative route in the case pertaining to the closure of night traffic through Bandipur. The inspection was spread over two days and Conservator of Forests T. Balachandar said the Supreme Court has given them four weeks’ time to file an affidavit on the alternative route. He said the entire route, comprising parts of SH 90, 89 and 275, leading to Hunsur, Gonikoppa, Kutta and Sulthan Bathery, and then on to Moolehole, was traversed to assess its condition.
Forest officials, along with National Tiger Conservation Authority representatives, were part of the exercise. The alternative route entails a detour of 36 km. An affidavit providing details of the team’s findings will be filed before the Supreme Court within the next couple of days, Mr. Balachandra said.
The crux of the issue revolves around the closure of night traffic through the portion of NH 212 that passes through Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Wayanad National Park. NH 212 (new 766) connects Kollegal in Karnataka with Kozhikode in Kerala via Mysuru. The length of the highway is 272 km, and 34.6 km of this passes through the Bandipur and Wayanad national parks. The road cuts through 19.7 km of the core zone of Bandipur and 4.5 km of its buffer zone. In Wayanad, the division is 4.8 km of the core zone and 5.8 km of the buffer zone. In all, 24.2 km of the highway passes through protected areas in Karnataka, and 10.4 km through protected areas in Kerala.
The night traffic ban was introduced following a directive from the Mysuru Deputy Commissioner in 2009 to provide wild animals a reprieve from vehicular movement. The ban is from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was challenged in the High Court of Karnataka, but the decision was upheld. The matter is now being heard in the Supreme Court.