December 11, 2013
Officials to meet in Bangalore today to discuss the matter
‘Vanya-Let The Wild Be Wild’, a non-government organisation, urged the State government on Monday not to “succumb to pressure” from Kerala government to withdraw the night traffic ban on two highways across Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
The ban is in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. The NGO’s observation comes on the eve of a meeting to be held in Bangalore on Tuesday, between the Additional Chief Secretary (Kerala) and Principal Secretary of Forests, Ecology and Environment (Karnataka), to discuss the matter. The matter is sub judice.
Ranking officials from the Forest department, Chief Engineer (Construction and Buildings) of the Public Works Department, and the Chief Engineer of the National Highways Authority are also said to be participating in the meeting, according to a statement received here on Monday. The discussion could even lead to contempt of the Supreme Court, the statement said. The Kerala government had held four rounds of discussions with four Chief Ministers of Karnataka on the issue, all of whom rejected the proposals.
The proposals were rejected in the interest of protecting the wildlife. The closing down of vehicular traffic through the two highways, NH-212 and NH-67, passing through Bandipur, was based on a Karnataka High Court order (March 9, 2010).
The court had already identified the road passing through Hunsur-Gonicoppa-Kutta-Katikulam, which is 30 km longer, as an alternative road to be used to circumvent the ban across Bandipur.
Also, in the above case, the Principal Secretary, Forest, Ecology and Environment, had submitted an affidavit that a road passing through Thithimathi was available as an alternative to NH-212 and would not cause any hardship to common people. The other alternative road suggested by Kerala passes through a critical corridor connecting the Bandipur and Nagarahole Parks.