Govt retracts on Bandipur traffic after backlash

Govt retracts on Bandipur traffic after backlash



A day after the Centre claimed to have obtained the consent of the Karnataka Chief Minister and PWD minister to revoke the ban on night traffic on NH 212 cutting through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, the government was under pressure to reconsider its decision. The social media was abuzz with a bitter backlash by netizens who criticised the stand and launched an online petition to exert pressure on the Centre to ensure status quo on the subject.

Alarmed by the development, Forest Minister R Shankar clarified that the state government is committed to maintaining status quo on the issue and will not revoke the ban despite pressure. Urging Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to communicate his department’s stand, Shankar wrote a letter to apprise the Centre about the situation.

“The state government, following the directions of the high court, had ordered a ban on night traffic while allowing emergency vehicles and four state-run KSRTC buses to ply, which the neighbouring Tamil Nadu has also supported,” the minister said. Shankar said it was only the Kerala government which has been pressuring the state government to allow night traffic on the highway.

Read: Centre says Karnataka agreed to lift Bandipur traffic ban

“Had we (state government) succumbed to pressure from the Centre, the move would have proven a death knell for the wildlife, especially the tigers in Bandipur which is a Unesco recognised national park. Hence, I request you to kindly communicate to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) about the ban and reiterate the state’s stand,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, conservationists and citizens took to the virtual world to exert pressure on the state and Union governments. Krishna Naveen started a petition ‘Please save Bandipur Tigers-No elevated Highway. No removal of night traffic ban’ on

The petition, in less than a few hours, witnessed support from as many as 5,000 people. Till late evening, the petition, addressing Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and the Karnataka chief minister and others, received the support of 8,000 people.

“Of late, there has been a concerted push by vested interests with a business motive to open up highways for traffic. There is also a proposal to construct an elevated highway through the reserve leading to the destruction of 50,000 trees in the critical tiger landscape and allowing fragmentation,” he stated in his petition. A twiteratti, Chandra Shekar said, “Business should not be a match for the precious life of a wild animal.”