Karnataka and Kerala on Thursday decided to develop alternative routes connecting the two States in view of the ban on vehicular traffic during the night on the Bandipur-Sultan Bathery route, which is part of National Highway 212, passing through the Bandipur Wildlife National Park. Chief Ministers Siddaramaiah and his Kerala counterpart Oommen Chandy held a meeting here to discuss the issue, as the ban order, upheld by the Karnataka High Court, has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Speaking to presspersons after the meeting at the Vidhana Soudha here, the two Chief Ministers said that four alternative routes are under consideration and officers and engineers were working on the proposal. They said that the chief engineers of the respective Public Works Department, under the chairmanship of Secretaries, would monitor the progress.
The alternative routes proposed are Mysore-Gonikoppa-Kutta-Kolpet, Mysore-Bavali-Manandavadi, Mysore-Virajpet-Kannur and via Mysore-Bylukuppe-Iritti.
Mr. Chandy said that Kerala would renew its efforts by submitting an application in the Supreme Court seeking permission for allowing motorcades at intervals during night through the banned stretch. He hoped that Karnataka would positively respond to this application before the Supreme Court. But, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that it would not be possible for his government to change its stand as it had filed an affidavit before court supporting the ban.
He, however, told Mr. Chandy that his government would explore other possibilities to help inter-State vehicle movement. The government has set apart Rs. 49 crore to develop an alternative route and this amount would be spent once consensus emerges on the alternative route.
The other issue the two leaders discussed concerned a railway line between Nanjangud and Nilambur in Kerala at a cost of Rs. 4,266 crore, which would pass through 22 km of Bandipur National Park. Mr. Siddaramaiah said that his government was not opposed to alternative routes and the railway line, for which the Railway Ministry had to take environmental clearance. Mr. Chandy was accompanied by Kerala MPs M.K. Raghuram from Kozhikode and M.I. Shanavas from Wayanad.
A group of young wildlife enthusiasts staged a protest in front the Vidhana Soudha West Gate, opposing any move to lift the ban and the proposal for a railway line. However, the group was dispersed by the police.