Save Bandipura: Is Bandipura National park the next prey of 'Development'?

You might have come across countless stories of Man vs. Nature. These are the same old narratives where humans interfere with the lives of nature and pay a hefty price, only to realize their grave mistake in the end. Something similar is unfolding in Karnataka, where a protest was held in Mysore opposing the Kerala government’s proposed move to lift the ban on night traffic in Bandipur Tiger Reserve and other developmental plans affecting the protected environment. This leaves us with the question: Can development only be achieved at the cost of nature?

Save BandipuraAlso Read: Bandipur National Park: Your Ultimate Guide to Wildlife Exploration

Why Bandipura is important?

Bandipur is a biodiversity hotspot with over 2000 flowering plants, 200 species of birds, and a wide range of animals. The national park is home to over 400 tigers, along with endangered species like the black panther, four-horned antelope, Indian giant squirrel, the Indian pangolin, small Indian civet, and many others. Additionally, it boasts the largest habitat of wild elephants. This vast national park shares its borders with three other national parks - Nagarahole National Park in Karnataka, Wayanad National Park in Kerala, and Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. Bandipur holds many other significances, making it a natural treasure.

What’s the issue?

Like any other nature vs human, the problem arises when humans make ambitious plans for "development" that encroach upon the serene habitats of nature. The issue emerged when the state government revealed its plans involving Bandipur, which include the destruction of lakhs of trees and the intrusion into natural animal habitats. The wildlife will become victims of this 'development,' leading to irreversible damage that will disrupt the entire ecosystem of the national park.

Railway line through Bandipura National park:

The Kerala government has proposed building a 236-kilometer broad-gauge railway line between Nilambur and Nanjangud. This project aims to enhance interstate connectivity and reduce travel time and distance between Nilambur and the IT hub Bengaluru. However, it will result in the destruction of countless trees and animal habitats, ultimately causing an ecological imbalance within the national park.

Railway tunnel through Bandipura:

Kerala plans to construct an 11-kilometer railway tunnel through Bandipur, further contributing to the destruction of nature and ecological imbalance.

Relaxation of Night time travel restrictions:

NH 766 and NH 212, two key connectivities between Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, remain closed to travel from 9 pm to 6 am to prevent human or animal casualties at night. However, Kerala initially challenged this ban in the Supreme Court. Despite the risks to both human and animal lives, the relaxation of these restrictions is being pursued.

Tiger dies after being hit by speeding vehicle on Mysore Nanjangud highway in Bandipura National ParkTiger dies after being hit by speeding vehicle on Mysore Nanjangud highway in Bandipura National Park

Like any other movie or story, there are individuals who retain their humanity, defending the national park with determination against the proposed 'developmental' plans. Voices were raised against these plans in Mysore, with environmentalists expressing concerns over their impact on the fragile ecosystem of the national park.

Speaking to the press Divisional Railway Manager of South Western Railway (SWR) Shilpi Agarwal stated that “Already there is a Nanjangud-Chamarajanagar line and we have no information about where Kerala is planning to connect the line in Mysuru. The aerial survey would have been done by some private agency. Once the plan is finalized and approved by the Railway Board, it will come to us (SWR) for approval and as of now, we have no visibility”

What can we do to Save Bandipura National Park?

To address the threats facing Bandipur and its wildlife, there are several actions we can take. Firstly, spreading awareness about the importance of preserving Bandipur and advocating for its protection through social media and community engagement is crucial. Furthermore, advocating for sustainable development and stricter wildlife protection laws by petitioning policymakers is essential.

Also read: Odisha to Launch World's First Black Tiger Safari

The government's intentions regarding the plan's progression remain uncertain. Nonetheless, there's clarity in the need to reconsider whether prioritizing development over nature is justified and to unite for the greater good before time runs out! Hopefully this story has a happy ending...

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