Karnataka

Save Bandipur campaign gains momentum with third protest

Wildlife enthusiasts, activists and conservationists at the silent protest at Maddur Forest check-post in Chamarajanagar on Saturday.

Wildlife enthusiasts, activists and conservationists at the silent protest at Maddur Forest check-post in Chamarajanagar on Saturday.  

Activists oppose any plan to build highways, relaxing night traffic ban in reserve

Scores of people from all walks of life joined the ‘Save Bandipur’ campaign on Saturday to protest the proposals to construct elevated highways through the national park and lifting the ban on night traffic.

The protest was held at the Maddur range check post of Bandipur Tiger Reserve and drew activists from Bengaluru, Mysuru, Gundlupet, and Kerala.

The campaign was launched soon after the Ministry of Roads Transport and Highways (MoRTH) submitted before the apex court its plan to construct five elevated highways through the national park, besides opening it up for road traffic 24x7. At present, there is a ban on night traffic through the park from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. as a measure to reduce roadkill and it was upheld by the High Court of Karnataka.

However, the issue is now embroiled in the Supreme Court, which has ordered a status quo on the subject but has sought views from various stakeholders and is hearing a petition on lifting the night ban.

Incidentally, the State government had rejected the proposal when the MoRTH first came up with the plans of elevated highways and lifting the night ban. But the Union government submitted the same proposals to the Supreme Court asking for suitable direction.

Incensed by the development, people have joined hands to launch the ‘Save Bandipur’ campaign which has gained traction over a month. This is the third protest – one was held at Mysuru and another at Bandipur – and activists aver they are drumming up support through social media and more protests have been planned.

They argue that lifting the night ban will be detrimental to forests and wildlife, pointing out that there have been innumerable deaths of wild animals owing to traffic accidents. The numbers considerably reduced after the night traffic ban was put in place. Lifting the ban will pose grave danger to animals and increase the possibility of accident related deaths of wild animals, especially tigers.

“Only 6% of Karnataka’s land mass falls under wildlife habitats. If caution is not exercised to preserve this, we will soon be left with no wildlife in our forests,” an activist representing various organisations said. Many cautioned that the project would ring a death knell to forests which are a source of water.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 12:15:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/save-bandipur-campaign-gains-momentum-with-third-protest/article25349700.ece

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