Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has directed the Executive Engineer of Public Works Department (PWD), Virajpet, to ensure that speed-breakers are provided at an interval of 500 metres for the 11-km stretch on State Highway Number 90 (Mysuru-Anechowkur-Virajpet Road near Mathigodu elephant camp) passing through Nagarahole Tiger Reserve to prevent the death of animals because of fast-moving vehicles.
Acting Chief Justice L. Narayana Swamy and Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar passed this interim order after hearing a Public Interest Litigation petition, seeking directions to the Forest and PWD to take immediate steps to ban night traffic between 6 pm and 6 am on the State Highway.
The petition was filed by advocate H.C. Prakasha, a resident of Rajajinagar and A.M. Mahesh, a law student from Hebbal in Bengaluru. During the hearing, petitioner’s counsel, Nalina Mayegowda submitted that vehicles moving on State Highway Number 90 (Mysuru-Virajpet road), which passes through Nagarahole Wildlife Reserve near Mathigodu Elephant Camp, was a threat to elephants.
The petitioners also demanded for an interim direction to the authorities, to provide for speed-breakers on the Highway, to keep a check on the speed of vehicles. Referring to the death of tusker Ranga in October last year after a speeding private bus from Kerala heading towards Mysuru hit the pachyderm on State Highway 90, the petitioners said traffic on this section of the Highway had increased due to the ban on night traffic on National Highways 67 and 212 (now renamed as NH 766) passing through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
At present, there is a ban on night traffic on NH-766 that connects Karnataka to Kerala via Gundlupet in Chamarajanagar and on NH-67 that links Karnataka to Tamil Nadu.
The petitioners said such incidents highlight the immediate necessity for measures to prevent animal deaths due to collision with vehicles. They said animal deaths include those of reptiles, monkeys, civet cats and small mammals that come under the wheels of speeding vehicles at night. The roads that pass through the Tiger Reserve have become death traps for elephants due to inaction of the authorities, the petitioners said and added that the road is used by a large number of private transporters and other vehicles that drive rashly with utter disregard to wildlife and their habitat.
The PWD has assured the court that speed-breakers would be provided by Mar. 17. Additional Government Advocate D. Nagaraja submitted a letter addressed to the Deputy Commissioner, Mysuru, requesting him to provide speed-breakers and put up notice boards on the State Highway.
Further, on instructions of the Executive Engineer, PWD, Nagaraj submitted that the authorities would provide speed-breakers at an interval of 500 meters on the 11-km stretch, if ten days’ time was granted. Taking note of it, the Court issued directions to put speed-breakers and adjourned the hearing to Mar.19, 2019, for compliance of the interim order.