Problem NH 766: Kerala will inform SC of other roads that pass through the tiger reserves

KOZHIKODE: With only one week left before the case of the night traffic ban on NH-766 is taken, the state's legal challenge against the SC's suggestion to completely close the forest stretch of the road will probably be based on the principles of equity and non-discrimination

The state may point out that there are about 26 major roads in the country, including national and state roads and PWD roads, which cross the tiger reserves and the road to Wayanad cannot be signaled for total closure.

Deputy MK Raghavan who had implemented in the case at the Karnataka high court that had imposed a night traffic ban through the NH section that runs through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in 2009, said the suggestion to completely close the NH section -766 would be discriminatory as there were many NHs that went through tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.

“Why are Wayanad and the NH-766 section distinguished for total closure while other national roads pass through the tiger reserves? We will raise this fundamental issue before the court, ”he added.

Raghavan said a senior lawyer would represent him in the SC when the case was brought to the hearing on October 18. He noted that NH-6 and NH-7 cross at least six tiger corridors in the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra alone.

NH-7 passes through one of the most important tiger corridors in the country and crosses that of Madhya Pradesh, which at the beginning of the year was classified as one of the best managed tiger reserves in the country.

He added that the NH-6, which is the second longest national road in the country, which runs from Surat in Gujarat to Kolkatta in West Bengal, passes through corridors around the Melghat Tiger Reserve, the Bor Tigers Reserve, the Reserve of Nawegaon-Nagzira Tigers and the Simlipal Tiger Reserve.

Among the other roads that dissect the tiger reserves include the NH-39 that passes through the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and the NH-948 that passes through the Tamil Nadu, among many others.

He said that appropriate mitigation mechanisms, such as the elevated corridor project or underpasses, should be implemented in stretches of forest roads so that wildlife protection and ensuring vital road connectivity can be balanced.

While the night traffic ban has been in effect on the forest stretch of the road in BTR from 2009 onwards to prevent road deaths, widespread protests broke out in Wayanad after the SC in August suggested the total closure of the stretch of the highway and requested the Ministry of Finance to submit a report on the update of NH-275 and SH-90 (alternative route from Wayanad to Mysuru through Kutta and Gonikuppa) so that NH-766 can be closed in the long term.