Plastic poses hazard to wildlife

Both these roads pass through the Bandipur National Park which covers a distance of 23 km and 13 km respectively.
Both these highways are always busy with tourist vehicles, passenger buses and goods-laden trucks.

A survey conducted by Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers (TEST) over six months ago disclosed that more than 25 vehicles ply through this forest stretch every hour, causing an increase in noise and air pollution levels. High beam lights from these vehicles have often posed as a major irritant to the wildlife here.
Then came the  ban on the movement of traffic from Melukamanahalli forest check-post of Gopalaswamy Betta Wildlife Range to Kekkanahalla forest check-post situated on Karnataka and Tamil Nadu border between 9 pm and 6 am.
Last week, this writer reached the Kekkanahalla forest check post at 5 am. More than 30 vehicles had lined up waiting for the Bandipur gate to open. Some knew of the ban, and others didn’t, but wait they had to.

It was dark, and cold. Commuters waited for the gate to be opened. Then, there were others negotiating with the forest guard to open the gate by 5:30 am.
As the sun rose slowly behind the thick forest, an ugly scene came to light. Plastic covers, plates, paper, plastic glasses, bottles, cigarette butts and packs were strewn everywhere. The whole area was littered with plastic waste.
The ban on vehicular movement inside the Bandipur National Park has been implemented for the safety of animals.

But the vehicles piled up near the check post have started to pose environmental hazards. There is danger of deer, monkeys and wild boars, largely seen on this stretch eating the plastic waste. It is also appalling to note that the passengers and vehicle crews who wait at the check post often use the green belt along the road as an open toilet.

“Toilets and closed dustbins should be provided here,” points out, Ramesh, a regular traveller on this route.
“Imposing the night ban is a welcome step. But who will take care of us? Passengers have to wait in the middle of the forest for six-seven long hours in buses or in private vehicles. There are no basic facilities, not even street lights. Passengers are afraid to alight from the vehicles,” complains Usha Pinto, a tourist from Mangalore.
If the Tamil Nadu government also implements a ban on vehicular movement at night, then vehicles can halt at Gudalur or other villages outside the Madhumalai wildlife sanctuary.

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