BENGALURU: After a prolonged battle for eight long years, the Supreme Court passed orders upholding the closure of Mysore-Mananthavadi highway for vehicular traffic from 6 pm to 6 am and also rerouting of a part of the highway. Activists say this order is a major boost for wildlife conservation in this area as it will help in the movement of wildlife in the critical corridor between Nagarhole and Bandipur Tiger Reserves.
The case was filed nearly a decade back against rerouting and night closure of the Mysore-Mananthavadi highway passing through the southern side of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve.
In July 2008, the then District Commissioner of Mysore had ordered closure of the Mysore-Mananthavadi highway based on a proposal mooted by wildlife biologist Sanjay Gubbi. There was already an alternate road existing that would reduce the highway length and its impacts within the tiger reserve from 29 kms to 19 kms. The state government further approved a part of the highway, from Dammanakatte to Udbur, to be rerouted outside the tiger reserve to ensure safety of wildlife. In 2010, the government of Karnataka approved `18 crores to develop an alternate road in lieu of the road passing through the tiger reserve which is now being used by many road users.
According to wildlife activists, the rerouting and development of the road outside the tiger reserve also helped 11 villages and over 30,000 people, who had no access to good roads to market their agricultural produce and also for students to reach schools and colleges. However, both these initiatives of closure and re-routing were challenged by the Mananthavady-Mysore Road Joint Action Council represented by its chairman Father Thomas Joseph Therakam in the High Court of Karnataka and the Supreme Court.