To the relief of environmentalists and wildlife activists, it has been claimed by the Centre that no project of constructing elevated corridors in Bandipur Tiger Reserve will be taken up.
Three days after this move was opposed by the Karnataka Government at the Apex Court, the Centre’s decision came. Karnataka Government emphasized the potential harm this move may have caused to Asiatic elephants, tigers and other animals.
The Centre had already been advised by the National Tiger Conservation Authority in March 2018 to not carry on with the project, keeping in mind how harmful it would be to the habitat of several wild animals, including more than 100 tigers, reported The News Minute.
Answering a question by Veerendra Kumar, who is a Janata Dal (United) MP from Kerala, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Mahesh Sharma rested the issue at the Rajya Sabha. The Centre’s stance on building the road over the forest in order to overcome the night travel ban in the area was questioned by him.
“The government of Karnataka had opposed construction of the road or lifting of the nine-hour night traffic ban on NH-212, which passes through Bandipur Tiger Reserve. In fact, we have suggested strengthening the alternative route passing through Thithimathi-Gonikoppa-Kutta,” said the Minister in response to this.
Protests by activists
Multiple protests were held against the move by activists under the ‘Save Bandipur’ banner. As a part of the Bharatmala project, four elevated corridors were to be built on the National Highway 766, 1 km long each, by the National Highway Authority of India.
Following a certain communication between the Ministry of Road and Transport Secretary YS Malik and the Karnataka Chief Secretary being leaked in August 2018, the activists were alarmed. The letter spoke about a verbal agreement between Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and PWD Minister HD Revanna to go ahead with the project.
The proposed reversal of the night traffic ban (9 PM to 6 PM) had also been opposed by activists. The ban came into effect following the Karnataka High Court’s order in 2009. On the same highway, a minimum of 215 animals had been run over between 2004 and 2007.
The Centre’s decision is worth being appreciated. With the biodiversity of our country being destroyed at an alarming rate, a way to save these animals is a positive step towards the conservation of wildlife.