Karnataka: Centre turns down Bandipur elevated corridor plan

Deepika S

Bengaluru, Jan 8: In a relief to the wildlife, the Centre has said that it will not take up the project of constructing elevated corridors in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

Mahesh Sharma, minister of state of environment, forest and climate change, answered an unstarred question in the Rajya Sabha and said the state government has also opposed any construction or opening up of the road during night hours, which passes through Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

The government of Karnataka had opposed construction of the road or lifting of the nine-hour night traffic ban on NH-212, that passes through Bandipur Tiger Reserve. In fact, we have suggested strengthening of the alternative route passing through Thithimathi-Gonikoppa-Kutta," he said.

He was responding to MP Veerendra Kumar, a Rajya Sabha member, who asked about the ministry's stand on the corridor proposal and its status.

The proposal to build four elevated corridors, each 1-km long, on National Highway 766 by the National Highway Authority of India as part of the Bharatmala project had united activists under the banner of 'Save Bandipur'. They held multiple protests against the move.

It may be recalled that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), Government of India had said that it wanted to develop five stretches of 1 km each - of elevated roads - through the national park to ensure that there was 24x7 movement of vehicles along the national highway 212 (renamed as NH 766).

The activists also opposed the proposed reversal of night traffic ban (9 pm-6 am) on the 25 km stretch of National Highway 212 in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve corridor and petitioned Gadkari and Kumaraswamy.

The activists expressed concern that the project would be a source of disturbance to wildlife and clearance to it would set a wrong precedent leading to further destruction of flora and fauna.

The existing traffic ban has been in effect since 2009 when the Karnataka High Court banned traffic flow after dark while hearing a case pertaining to roadkills, where at least 215 animals were being run over between 2004 and 2007.

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