TAMIL NADU

Speed-checking initiative in Bandipur hailed

Free to roam:A tiger crossing a road inside Bandipur National Park.– File photo: PTI

Free to roam:A tiger crossing a road inside Bandipur National Park.– File photo: PTI  

Police fine over-speeding vehicles and drunken drivers on NH 212

Ripping at break-neck speed through the Bandipur National Park (BNP) in violation of the law will soon be a thing of the past. For, in a move that augurs well for both wildlife and conservation, the Gundlupet police have started checking the speed of vehicles using interceptors.

Both propriety and law stipulate that animals have the right of way inside national parks and wildlife sanctuary. But in Bandipur this is flouted with impunity and has resulted in innumerable animal deaths in accidents, caused by reckless motorists in the past.

Ban

The High Court of Karnataka imposed a ban on night traffic on the two highways — NH 212 and NH 67 — passing through Bandipur

“Though the number of road-kills during the night has drastically reduced, there are instances when motorists tend to exceed speed limits resulting in animal deaths even during day,” said Praveen Ramaswamy, founder-trustee of Vanya, an organisation that works on conservation and wildlife issues.

He said daytime traffic took a toll too, as apart from over speeding there were also instances of drunken driving, and in some cases even intentional running over of animals was prevalent.

But over the last week, the Gundlupet police conducted speed checks with interceptors and imposed fine on over-speeding vehicles and drunken drivers on NH 212, which cuts through Bandipur and links Gundlupet with Wayanad through Moolehole. Wildlife conservationists, the Forest Department and local villagers have appreciated and welcomed this initiative.

D. Rajkumar, of Wildlife Conservation Foundation and representative of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) said the maximum road-kills took place at night but that was a thing of the past owing to the ban on movement of traffic from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., following High Court ruling.

“But we used to have animal deaths reported once in two months, while a few may have gone unreported.

“This checking will help further reduce animal deaths,” he added.

The traffic density on NH 212 is reckoned to be high and a survey conducted last year indicated that there is a vehicle passing every 40 seconds.

“When the gates are opened at 6 a.m. the motorists tend to rip at top speed and this is also the time when wild animals, deer especially, tend to be crossing from one point to another, and driving at top speed could prove to be fatal for the animals,” said Mr. Rajkumar.

There are couple of high-speed stretches in the forests and the police park the interceptor vehicles at one of such danger zones and those over speeding are being booked for reckless driving and fined on the spot.

However, wildlife conservationists have pointed out that a permanent measure would be to have speed breakers at every 100 metres, as continuous monitoring of vehicles inside the forests was impractical.

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