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Car-bike rally at fragile Nandi Hills kicks up dust

Officials of the Forest Department, along with locals and conservationists, have raised objections to the conduct of the event.

Published: 22nd December 2021 06:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd December 2021 06:51 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The bike and car rally at Nandi Hills, scheduled to be held on December 25 and 26 and promoted by the Chikkaballapur district administration and Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports, has raised concerns in different quarters. 

Officials of the Forest Department, along with locals and conservationists, have raised objections to the conduct of the event. They reason that the fragile Nandi Hills should be conserved and cleanliness and greenery maintained. They also point out that Nandi Hills has witnessed landslides only in August. 

Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports Deputy Director Jitendra Shetty said the department is partially funding and supporting the event as it is being done for the first time on the hills.  According to the event organisers, the bike and car race — Race to the Clouds — is being held on the last seven hairpin bends atop Nandi Hills. The organisers say the event is similar to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb organised in Colorado every year. 

Interestingly, the logo of the Tourism Department is also being used to draw participants, but officials of the department say that they are not aware of any such event. “We had only partnered for the rally held in Hampi last month, not for this,” said a senior Tourism Department official. 

Santhosh H M, Motorsports Academy, one of the event organisers, said this is the first time a rally like this is being held in India. The earlier plan for the event was to conduct it at Mullayyanagiri Hills in Chikkamagalur or at Chandpur on the border of West Bengal and Nepal.  

“The venue was also approved by the Youth Empowerment Department. Permission has been obtained from the district administration and a total of 150 participants will be allowed on both the days. The general public is not allowed,” Santhosh said. 

However, Forest Department officials point to the protection of the fragile eco-system. “Though the event is being held on the road and not in the jurisdiction of the Forest Department, the surroundings are. The highway or city roads can be used for such racing events. When the government  is working on banning vehicles to the hilltop, organising such racing events should also not be allowed,” said a senior Forest Department official.



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