The Karnataka High Court has issued notices to the Centre and the state while hearing a PIL seeking directions to the authorities to safeguard the lives of elephants.
A division bench headed by acting Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy was hearing a petition filed by Prakasha H C, an advocate, and Mahesh A M, a law student, who have moved the court challenging the failure of the authorities in protecting and securing the lives of the Asiatic elephants.
They have highlighted the inaction on part of the authorities to provide a secure 'Right of Way' to the elephants in the 11-km-long stretch of state highway No. 90, which passes through the Nagarahole wildlife reserve (Rajiv Gandhi National Park).
The petitioners have sought for directions to the respondents to ban night traffic (6 pm to 6 am) on SH 90 (Mysuru-Virajpet road near Matthigodu elephant camp), which passes through the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve.
They have highlighted the inaction of the respondents in holding their officers accountable for dereliction of duty, in failing to implement basic safety measures towards protecting elephants and their habitat.
The petitioners highlight an incident of October 8, 2018, wherein elephant 'Ranga' was badly hit by an overspeeding bus on the Mysuru-Virajpet road near Matthigodu elephant camp, that resulted in his death. The elephant was hit in the early hours of the morning.
The petitioners say such incidents highlight the immediate necessity for measures to prevent animal deaths due to collision with vehicles.
They say animal deaths include those of reptiles, monkeys, civet cats and small mammals that come under the wheels of speeding vehicles at night.
The petition says simple measures like installing rumble strips, digital display boards and equipment to monitor speed have not been implemented. The roads that pass through the elephant reserve have become death traps for elephants due to inaction of the authorities, it says.
The road stretch in question is used by a large number of private transporters and other vehicles that drive rashly with utter disregard to wildlife and their habitat.
As an interim prayer, the petitioners have sought for directions to the existing technical committee constituted to look into the deaths of elephants to submit a report to the court on the steps taken to prevent elephant mortality.