A group of like-minded people on Saturday staged a dawn-to-dusk protest at Maddur Range check-post, under Bandipur Tiger Reserve on Gundlupet-Sultan Bathery road, demanding night traffic ban and shelving plan to construct elevated roads inside the forest.
It was a silent protest on the theme ‘Save Bandipur’ from 11 am to 4 pm. A similar protest has been planned on November 10 and 11 in front of the Town Hall in Bengaluru to take the movement forward.
This is the third such protest in a fortnight. The first protest was held on October 11 at Mysuru in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office, while the second one was held at Melkamanahalli arch, the Bandipur forest entry, on October 20.
The like-minded people intensified the protests and had networked with #nighttrafficbeda on the social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, gmail and WhatsApp. The protests are being held without an umbrella organisation, without naming any particular organisation in view of garnering the support of all like-minded people. Members of several outfits have expressed their solidarity with the movement and most of them took part in the silent protest on Saturday.
Members of various factions of the Raitha Sangha and members of the Bar Associations took part in the protest. The protest also received support from unexpected quarters.
Members of several outfits from across Kerala and Tamil Nadu borders joined the protest and expressed their support. The protesters displayed placards reading: We will not give up! We will save our forests! We will #SaveBandipur, #NightTrafficBeda, etc.
“We do not want night traffic in Bandipur. We do not need elevated roads. We do not need barricades. We should conserve our forests. Road users already have 15 hours in a day at their disposal. Can’t they spare just nine hours for the flora and fauna?.”
There is no absolute ban on traffic via Bandipur during the night. Already eight buses each are plying to and from Kerala. Vehicles of emergency services like Police and ambulance are allowed. So, there is no question of inconvenience to the people,” the protesters said.
“There is no demand from the Ooty side for lifting of ban on night traffic. Why this demand from Kerala side only, while things are moving smoothly since 2009, when the night traffic ban was implemented? Besides, there are alternative roads. There seems to be a secret pact between the governments. If the stress is only on trade and money, life will be miserable.”
“If forests are damaged, there is no life. The ministers should understand. There is timber lobby, sugar lobby, sand lobby, etc behind the pressure to lift the ban. Besides, this is a route for black businesses. Our demand to the governments is to leave the forests alone. We are ready to go to any extent, to even court arrest to save our forests,” the agitators said.