In a victory for wildlife conservationists, high court has upheld the order of the Mysore deputy commissioner about the closure of night traffic on Mysore–Mananthavadistate highway (SH 17) passing through the Nagarahole National Park.
Sanjay Gubbi, member of the state board of wildlife, recommended the closure of night traffic on this stretch of SH 17 and the deputy commissioner of Mysore, on July 11, 2008, issued an order closing the night traffic in consultation with his officers, transporters and other stake holders.
This order of the deputy commissioner had come in for objections from Father Thomas Joseph Therakkam and others from Wayanad, Kerala. They had approached the high court to cancel the order.
Court refuses to cancel order
Based on arguments and submissions made by the state government and considering there is an alternative road, the high court refused to open the highway for night traffic.
However, it ordered that the alternative road, which is in a bad condition, should be repaired before the next monsoon.
Even before this case was disposed of, the same petitioner had approached the Supreme Court regarding the same matter by hiding the fact that this issue was pending before the Karnataka high court.
State preparing alternative road
Recently, chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda sanctioned Rs21 crore to repair the alternative road.
“The efforts of Manivannan, the then deputy commissioner of Mysore, KA Vidya, the then assistant commissioner of Hunsur, BK Singh, chief wildlife warden and BJ Hosmat, field director, Project Tiger, is to be lauded for having taken decisions for wildlife conservation,” Gubbi said.
This state highway lies on the southern side of Nagarahole and falls within a crucial corridor between Nagarahole and Bandipur national parks.
This highway is very close to the Kabini backwaters, where elephants congregate during summer, and deters the movement of several wildlife species.
Traffic poses great risk
Studies by Gubbi shows that large mammals avoid the forests during daytime along the highway once vehicular traffic started and used this area at night time when there is no traffic.
Hence, it is critical to stop traffic on the highway during night time as the animals risk getting run over by vehicles.
A similar ban on night traffic was imposed earlier at Bandipur National Park and traffic was regulated on NH-212, that leads to Sulthan Bathery in Kerala and NH-67 that links to Ooty in Tamil Nadu.