Wayanad: The tigers will get a boost if the Kozhikode-Kollegal NH 766 (earlier NH 212) is closed down as suggested by the Supreme Court. But the development of the entire region would be mauled if the suggestion is implemented.
The SC observation came while considering the petitions submitted against the night traffic ban through the route on August 7.
The night traffic through NH 766 and NH 67 (Gundelpett-Ooty road), both passing through the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary, was banned by Manoj Kumar Meena, the then Chamaraj Nagar district collector in Karnataka, on June 3, 2009.
Since then the people of the region have been struggling to travel across the forest region at night.
The apex court has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change to file an affidavit within four weeks on how to improve the alternative route in tune with the width and other features of NH 766, "which may, in the long run, be closed down altogether."
The verdict cited section 38V of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 which was amended in 2006. It states that the "core or critical tiger habitat areas of national parks and sanctuaries, where they have been established, on the basis of scientific and objective criteria, that such areas are required to be kept inviolate for purpose of tiger conservation."
T.M. Rasheed, convener of the action council for Nilgiri-Wayanad Railway and National Highway, said that if the state continues its lethargy in fighting the case, the district would lose the NH 766 in the long run.
Even now, with no buses plying on the Kozhikode-Sulthan Bathery- Mysore route during night, the passengers towards Sulthan Bathery and Pulppalli are affected as only a few buses operate on the route from Kozhikode.
The NH 766 closes down for traffic by 9 p.m. and opens up at 6 a.m.
A permanent closure of the road would hit the economy, particularly tourism, it is pointed out.
However, a delegation of political leaders, trade and industry and people's representatives will meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan regarding the issue on Wednesday.