Business of many small-time vendors affected
Srirangapatna: The Forest Department has placed two cages with baits at the Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam premises, one at the North Gate and another at the South Gate to trap the elusive leopard that is on the prowl.
While the Dam and the famed Brindavan Gardens remained out of bounds for tourists yesterday following the sighting of the feline at 6 pm on Friday, the South Gate Garden side was opened this morning while the North Gate remained closed.
Due to repeated closure of Brindavan Gardens following leopard scare, many small-time vendors selling eatables, snacks, fruits and toys have suffered losses. Hundreds of tourists visit the Dam and Gardens every day and the number doubles during weekend.
“Last week too the leopard was sighted on a Saturday and this time it came on a Friday. Due to the repeated closure of the Dam, we are facing losses as tourists are scared to come here,” said a vendor.
The leopard was spotted in the Horticulture Department farm near the Northern Gardens close to the musical fountains at 6 pm on Friday. Again, it was sighted at 10 pm on the same day as it came face-to-face with the Forest Department staff who were combing the area late into the night. The North Gate of the gardens attracts more tourists due to the musical fountains where the sound-and-light-shows are held. The South Gate area has a few fountains and tourists come here to see the lighting and also the Cauvery statue. While the North Gate comes under the administration of Pandavapura Forest Division, the Southern area comes under Srirangapatna Division.
Last night too, the Forest staff conducted a combing operation but could not find the elusive cat. However, the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited (CNNL) authorities decided to open the Southern Gate today while keeping the North Gate out of bounds for visitors.
This move has been criticised as the CNNL is endangering the lives of tourists and is safeguarding its revenue interest. “The distance between the North Gate and the South Gate is not much and a leopard can easily cover the distance in 10 minutes. Can the CNNL guarantee that the leopard will not come to the Southern Gardens? Before opening the Brindavan Gardens to the tourists, the CNNL must ensure that the area is safe. But the officers have relegated tourist safety into the background and are focussed only on entry ticket collection,” said a tourist.
Meanwhile, CNNL Assistant Executive Engineer Farooq Ahmed Abu said that there was confusion as to whether it was the same leopard that visited the KRS last week or was it a new one. “While there are no CCTV visuals of the leopard that came last week, Friday’s CCTV visuals indicate that the leopard was a sub-adult,” he said.