Bengaluru: Former Congress president, Rahul Gandhi has once again angered wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists. This time it is his demand for train services between Mysuru and Waynad in Kerala, that has got them all riled up as they fear it will destroy the forests of the Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks that support a large number of elephants and tigers, besides other wildlife.
Mr Gandhi had on Wednesday appealed to the Union government in the Lok Sabha to run trains from Mysuru in Karnataka to his parliamentary constituency of Waynad in Kerala. This is not the first time he has courted controversy as he had recemtly invited the wrath of environmentalists with his support for the demand for lifting the ban on night traffic in Bandipur National Park in the interest of Kerala’s trade and commerce.
Calling the proposal for a railway line between Mysuru and Waynad "suicidal", former principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden, B K Singh said it would lead to destruction of wildlife habitat and destroy flora and fauna enroute. “Already there is man-animal conflict in Bandipur and Nagarhole National parks and if a railway line now passes through them and Kodagu , there will be unimaginable destruction of forests. The people will pay a heavy price in the form of natural calamities if they try to play with the country’s natural resources,” he warned.
Pointing out that the Mudumalai-Bandipur- Nagarahole-Wayanad stretch is home to the world's single largest meta-population of tigers, estimated to be over 570 in number in 2014, environmentalists note that the region also supports over 6500 Asiatic elephants.
“ Recovery of tigers and elephants in these reserves was thanks to the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, a landmark legislation enacted due to the vision of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It is indeed tragic that Rahul Gandhi is demanding that this habitat be fragmented and ripped apart by road and rail projects. We urge him to take a re-look at this demand since this habitat deserves complete protection," said Praveen Bhargav, trustee, Wildlife First and former member, National Board for Wildlife .