NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the nine-hour traffic ban on the national highway passing through the Bandipur reserve has caused hardship to lakhs of people in Kerala and Karnataka and asked the central and state governments to safeguard the interests of local communities while protecting the environment.
The movement of traffic through the tiger reserve is banned on this stretch from 9 pm to 6 am.
The ban through the reserve forest was intended to reduce disturbance to wildlife.
Gandhi, who is an MP from Wayanad in Kerala, expressed solidarity with the youth who are on an indefinite hunger strike since September 25 protesting the ban.
"I stand in solidarity with the youth on an indefinite hunger strike since September 25th protesting against the daily 9-hour traffic ban on NH-766 that has caused immense hardship to lakhs of people in Kerala and Karnataka," the former Congress president said in a tweet.
"I urge the central and state governments to safeguard the interests of local communities while upholding our collective responsibility to protect our environment," he tweeted.
Last month, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had batted in favour of an elevated highway through the Bandipur National Park connecting Wayanad in Kerala and Mysore in Karnataka.
The ban has been affecting the people of Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.