Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has proposed a ban on night traffic in wildlife reserves across the state, days after an elephant was mowed down by a bus in Nagarhole National Park. Nine of the 15 national highways cutting across Karnataka and 28 of the total 151 state highways pass through wildlife reserves in the state.
Traffic movement in wildlife reserves, especially during night, is a highly contentious issue in Karnataka. The state government has been under pressure from Kerala to lift its June 2009 ban on night traffic movement in Bandipur. National highways 212 and 67 that connect Kerala with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka run through Bandipur reserve.
Expressing grief over the death of the pachyderm, Rowdy Ranga, the CM said: “In the light of such incidents, I am of the view that night traffic should not be allowed in wildlife reserves in the state…I will call a meeting of experts and conservationists to chalk out a strategy to prevent such incidents.”
The latest accident has strengthened Karnataka’s case to continue the ban on movement of night traffic in Bandipur between 9 pm and 6 am. The ban was upheld by the Karnataka High Court. A few months ago, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had also written to Karnataka urging it to reconsider the ban to enable construction of a four-lane elevated highway through the park.
After the recent floods in Kerala, a plea has been submitted in the Supreme Court to facilitate traffic flow through Bandipur on a temporary basis for six months.