Temples, new threat to State forests

Mushrooming of small temples is the latest threat to the Bandipur and Nagarahole National Parks that are already under threat of encroachment from villas, resorts and housing layouts.

The sudden infestation of the makeshift temples along the State highway in the wildlife zone has posed multiple threats to the sensitive tiger reserve. The illegal structures have tried to exploit religious sentiments to pursue illegal activities, say environment activists.

A temple dedicated to Mastyamma has come up on the Mysore-Manandawadi Road near the wildlife zone in D B Kuppe, Nagarahole near H D Kote. A few more temples near Hosur bus station, Kadegadde Hadi and an Ayyappa temple at Bavali on the Mysore-Manandawadi Road are the new structures on the block.

Temples that have sprouted across the Nagarhole wildlife zone include a Maramma temple in Hosur on the Hunsur-Gonikoppa Road in Anechowkur wildlife zone in Piriyapatna taluk, and a Chowdamma temple in the Handigere reserve forest area.

A Madeshwara temple in Beladakuppe in the Hediyala wildlife zone, H D Kote; a Bommadevara temple in Moliyur; a Marigudi in Alaganji, Karnegala; a Basaveshwara temple in the Begur reserve forest area; a shrine dedicated to Gundre Maramma in the Gundre wildlife zone are some of the structures built recently in the Bandipur National Park.

Residents from nearby villages gather at the temples to sacrifice animals. They chop trees for firewood to cook food and dump leftovers and meat waste on the premises. The animals attracted to the leftovers are easy prey for poachers, if not killed by the speeding vehicles on the highway.

The mushrooming temples are also affecting vehicle movement on the State highway. The Balle Mastamma temple on the Mysore-Manandawadi Road and Hosur Maramma temple on the Gonikoppa-Hunsur Road are a few examples.

Apart from violating the Supreme Court rule that prohibits construction activities in the vicinity of the national parks, gambling and intrusion into the forest areas are happening on the pretext of religious events.

Following the directions of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks were declared “hypersensitive tiger habitats” in November 2007.

Any human activity in such animal habitats amounts to offence under the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1972.

Though environmental activists have brought the illegal constructions to the notice of the Forest Department, no action has been taken so far.

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