Citizens protest against Bandipur elevated corridor

Citizens protest against Bandipur elevated corridor

The citizens’ opposition to the proposed elevated corridor cutting through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve got a boost on Saturday with hundreds of like-minded people from Kerala and Tamil Nadu staging a protest at the Freedom Park. 

After holding several protests at Mysuru and Bandipur, the citizens held a massive demonstration in Bengaluru demanding that the government reject the Centre’s proposed project.

United under the banner ‘Save Bandipur’, citizens’ groups supported by hundreds of school and college students and conservationists staged a day-long protest in Bengaluru. Unlike their previous protests, the group was supported by like-minded people from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

While the Kerala government is intensely lobbying for revoking the ban, the members of Wayanad Prakriti Samrakshana Samithi from Sulthan Bathery also took part in the protest.

Thomas Ambalavayal, secretary of the Samithi, said, “Kerala’s environmentalists also strongly condemn the project. The Mysuru-Calicut NH is known for gold smuggling, hawala transactions, wildlife trafficking, money laundering and smuggling of electronic goods. The closure of the road at night has put an end to all these illegal activities to a greater extent.

“Nobody in the Wayanad region of Kerala is hit by the ban on night traffic. No ordinary people have protested against this and only a few vested interests have been instigating this using their political clout.”

‘Ward off lobbyists’

The supporters from Tamil Nadu also urged the Karnataka government not to
yield to the demands of lobbyists and file an affidavit in the apex court saying they will not allow any developmental work inside Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar also said that the issue is not just about traffic in Bandipur but addressing what has been happening along the Western Ghats.

Ecological imbalance

“Bandipur traffic is a small issue of a larger subject which has been happening all over the Western Ghats. It is part of the Nilgiris Biosphere which is central to the Western Ghats eco-system. If we do not conserve Bandipur and allow traffic to take over the fragile landscape, entire South India will be impacted and witness major ecological imbalance. More and more people must lend their support for this cause,” he urged the citizens.

The citizens and volunteers signed a memorandum against the proposed elevated corridor and attempt to revoke the ban on night traffic. The memorandum will be submitted to the state and Central governments.