In SC, Kerala cites festival for traffic ban relief

he apex court, which heard the plea, adjourned the matter to a later date without making any comment. PTI file photo.

Giving a new twist to the Bandipur night traffic ban, the Nilgiris-Wayanad National Highway and Railway Action Committee on Friday filed a plea before the Supreme Court, seeking to revoke the ban on night traffic through Bandipur tiger reserve.

The committee, which is an impleading applicant in the matter, cited Bakrid and Onam festivities as the reason for revoking the ban, though the festive season is over.

The apex court, which heard the plea, adjourned the matter to a later date without making any comment. Surprisingly, much of Kerala, ravaged by the floods, decided to keep the celebrations low-key and festivities have already concluded. The attempts now, in the name of festivals, at a time when the entire state was focused on coping with the loss, have left conservationists disappointed.

Sources in Bandipur tiger reserve said the Forest department had been allowing all the flood relief-related traffic.

“The demand by the committee is actually misleading as the department has already allowed traffic carrying relief materials,” said an activist.

According to the plea, a copy of which was accessed by DH, the committee said, “Due to the heavy downpour and landslides in the last one month, Wayanad has been particularly affected and access to the district is totally cut off, save through NH 212 (NH 766). In the backdrop of prominent festivals, there will be a heavy movement of people between Kerala and Mysuru-Bengaluru.”

The committee requested the SC to temporarily suspend restriction on night traffic ban imposed on NH 212. Ironically, the state of Kerala itself imposed the ban on heavy vehicles in the hilly districts of Wayanad and Idukki, citing landslides.  

Sources in the Forest department confirmed that the alternative route passing through Hunsur-Gonikoppa and Mananthavady (SH-91) had not been damaged by rains and vehicles had been plying on the highway, ferrying goods and other materials to Kerala. This apart, the Virajpet-Iritty highway has been operational.

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