Karnataka

Mixed response to debate on night traffic ban in Bandipur

Participants at a discussion on night traffic closure through Bandipur, in Mysuru on Sunday.

Participants at a discussion on night traffic closure through Bandipur, in Mysuru on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM

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Stakeholders’views to be submitted to Union Ministry

A discussion on night traffic ban through Bandipur, conducted by the Institution of India, Mysuru chapter, evoked varied responses both against and in support of the present mechanism as per which vehicle movement is restricted from 9 p.m to 6 a.m.

The discussion was held as part of the centenary celebrations of the institution and the organisers said that they will compile the views of the stakeholders and submit the same to the Union Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change.

The issue is already being heard by the Supreme Court and a section of the stakeholders were perturbed by the apex court’s suggestion to scout for an alternative road so as to bring about a complete closure of the vehicular traffic through NH 766 (formerly NH 212) which sparked protests in Wayanad region of Kerala.

Maj. Gen Sudhir Vombatkere (retd.), who delivered the keynote address, stressed on the imperatives of environmental protection and drew a correlation between the state of the forests and the availability of water.

He pointed out that while forests and environment have to be conserved for posterity the needs of the population, to be affected by the ban, also could not be ignored. While the demand for water is increasing, the availability was on the decline, he said and stated that the alternative route, which was longer, should be explored in the long-term interest of protecting the forests, besides exploring alternative markets so as to reduce the usage of these highways.

Col. C.P. Muthanna of Coorg Wildlife Society made a strong plea for maintaining status quo and retaining the present ban on traffic at night. But he said people of Kodagu were concerned about the possibility of a 24x7 traffic ban through Bandipur as it would mean diverting all vehicles through Kodagu.

He said diverting all vehicles through Kodagu would be disastrous for wildlife as it cuts through elephant corridors in the region while pointing out that the existing night traffic ban along NH 212, had led to an increase in the traffic density along the Anechowkur- Gonikoppa-Makuta route.

He said tourism promotion was fine if it was sustainable and not invasive and pointed out that Kodagu had a population of 6 lakh but the tourist footfall was in excess of 1.8 million and the fragile hilly region could not sustain it.

D. Rajkumar, of Wildlife Conservation Foundation, said research indicated that a majority of the road kills took place at night and the ban had reduced animal fatality.

He said the restriction on traffic movement should not be termed as a ban but as a relief to animals.

The organisers had also invited stakeholders from Kerala and T.M. Rasheed, convener, Nilgiri-Wayanad National Highways and Railway Action Committee, said the alternative route was not an alternative at all as it posed threat to elephants and wildlife and supported railway lines and burrowing tunnels through the forest land as a feasible solution.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 12:45:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mixed-response-to-debate-on-night-traffic-ban-in-bandipur/article29872359.ece

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