THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Assembly on Friday passed a unanimous resolution calling for the revocation of the decision to ban night traffic along National Highway 766 which connects the state with Karnataka through the Bandipur forest.
The resolution, introduced by Transport Minister A K Saseendran urged the Centre to fulfil its promise that an expert committee would be appointed to examine Kerala's suggestions on the issue. It also noted that restrictions imposed on traffic through Bandipur forest area along Highway 766 were unprecedented in any tiger reserve in the country.
The resolution pointed out that people's right to free movement was restricted on the grounds that it would adversely affect wildlife. This has severely impacted the people of Kerala. The matter is presently under the Supreme Court's consideration.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways proposed during a meeting of the Supreme Court-appointed expert committee that five elevated roads could be constructed along the 25 km stretch of NH 766 and the remaining area could be fenced to keep wildlife at bay.
The resolution pointed out that the state had expressed its willingness to share half of the project cost of Rs 500 crore. For this purpose, the state had also earmarked Rs 200 crore in the budget.
However, when the case came up in Supreme Court in August, the apex court asked whether traffic could be banned round the clock on NH 766. It also asked the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to submit an affidavit on the proposal to develop State Highways 90 and 275 as an alternative route to NH 766.
The resolution noted that anxiety has gripped the people of Wayanad following the proposal to ban traffic altogether on NH 766. The Chief Minister has already conveyed to Central Ministers the state's suggestion that an alternative solution should be found to protect people's freedom of movement and ensure free movement of wildlife as well. The resolution urged the Centre to accept the state's demand on the matter.