Karnataka: No road widening inside Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Gundlupet MLA clarifies

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Gundlupet MLA C S Niranjan Kumar clarified on Tuesday that his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting for the widening of National Highway 766 was limited to the stretch that falls outside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
The MLA, in a letter dated June 20, had requested the PM’s intervention to not only widen NH 766, but also to place a divider to avoid accidents. A copy of this letter was shared widely on social media since June 27 with conservationists expressing concern as a part of this highway cuts across the core habitat of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
“NH 766 connecting Kerala border to Mysuru through Gundlupet and Nanjangud is a two-way road. While there is a divider at the stretch between Mysuru to Nanjangud, there isn’t any from Nanjangud to Kerala border and this stretch passes through Gundlupet. The density of vehicles passing through the single road is very high and the number of fatal accidents is very high. I requested the PM to widen the NH 766 stretch from Nanjangud to Kerala border through Gundlupet with a road divider,” Kumar told The Indian Express. “The road need not be widened for a divider to be put inside the forest area. I have not mentioned that the widening should be within the forest area as well. I am clarifying it,” he added.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has already acquired the land for the development of this road and there is no need for any acquisition again, Kumar said. “If this road is widened with a road divider, it will help the public since it will not only reduce the accidents, it will also help boost the economic activities of the people of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu,” Kumar added.
Following a decision taken by the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) in a meeting held on March 20, 2013, a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Dr M K Ranjitsinh had recommended, “The status quo of the roads passing through national parks and Core Critical Tiger Habitats (CTHs) shall remain the same. The roads could be maintained and repaired in the best manner possible in their current form and present width. No widening or upgradation is to be allowed. If it is an existing tarred road, it shall be maintained as such and no widening of the tarred surface or the widening of the road itself may be done.”
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