Wayanad hit by Bandipur night traffic ban, SC told

Wayanad hit by Bandipur night traffic ban, Kerala govt tells Supreme Court

A tusker seen on the highway, best example for human and animal conflicts at Bandipur National Park in Chamrajnagar District. Photo by S K Dinesh

The Kerala government on Wednesday made a fresh plea before the Supreme Court to lift the night traffic ban on roads passing through Bandipur Tiger Reserve, claiming that Wayanad, being the most backward district and with highest minority population, was badly hit by it.

“NH 766 is the sole means of transport for the rescue workers to access Wayanad, a hilly district in Western Ghats, which gets cut off during floods and natural calamities. It is also a survival route for the people of Wayanad, which lacks air, rail and water connectivity,” the state government said.

In an additional affidavit, the CPM-led government further claimed most of its consumer items like vegetables, rice, poultry for the Malabar region come through the NH 212 (now called NH 766), an economic link road that connects Kozhikode and Wayanad to Bengaluru and Mysuru.

It is the easiest route to connect Kerala and Karnataka. Many Keralites work in these cities. Their daily commute is very much affected by this ban (between 9 pm and 6 am), it said.

Wayanad is one of the most backward districts in the state and one among the 90 minority-concentrated areas in India, it pointed out.

The state asked the court to allow an elevated highway as suggested in the report of Ministry of Union Road Transport and Highways.

It said the report suggesting alternative route by merging NH-275 and state highway-90 may not be considered as its officials were not involved in the consultation process. This would destroy around 250 hectares of dense forest and badly affect the ecosystem, besides taking a huge chunk of agricultural land.

“The alternative route suggested by Karnataka also goes through Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and Tholpetty wildlife sanctuary in Kerala where wild animals are wandering freely in heavy numbers and it will take more time for the land acquisition. Moreover, it will require clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change,” it said.

The government said the freedom of movement and convenience of human beings were curtailed in the name of free movement of wild animals.

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