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Thread: Closing roads through National Parks - Not correct

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    Default Closing roads through National Parks - Not correct

    In Karnataka, two roads have been closed at Night times.
    1. The Mysore Mananthavaadi Highway (Kabini) through Nagarhole
    2. The road cutting through Bandipur (to Ooty and to Sulthan Bathery).

    The solution is not in closing the roads especially in the absence of alternate roads. There has to be a way to curtail speed of vehicles passing through. Also the drivers have to be educated first, warned subsequently and punished severly for repeated violations.

    Closing the road at nites does open up new issues which the authorities do not consider.
    Few issues are:
    1. Vehicles reach entry points in the evening especially the ones that come early bribe the guards and go thro the park, creating income opportunities for forest guards and officials.
    2. Other vehicles all queue up in the nite. The drivers and cleaners all team up to form a club to play cards and booze creating an opportunity at the edge of a protected area, while waiting for the park gate to open in the morning. They also create a market for venison and other forest meat to be served to them while they are spending the nite near the forest.
    3. When the gate opens in the morning at 6 am, there is a sudden rush of trucks and vehicles trying to overtake each other. Sometimes the queue of vehicles are so long that the animals cannot use/cross the road for few hours. Large mammals and cats are still active in the mornings. So whats the point in allowing the traffic at 6 am if they cannot be allowed in the nite?

    The correct way of doing it is to build speed barriers and constant monitoring and education. The forest officials are incapable of doing these things. The easiest is for them to close the park and inconvenience common man.Closing the highway is against the principles outlined in the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. The Act gives right-of-way to humans on roads cutting through parks.

    Recently the government closed the MM Road through kabini between 6PM and 6AM based on complaints and representations filed by NGOs, conservationists etc. Subsequently the CEC and the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India made it an order to close the road in the nite. The orders were based on CEC inspection and facts provided by NGOs and Conservationists on animal deaths on this particular road. Under RTI, I applied to the PCCF of Karnataka and asked him to provide me with the details of all animal deaths on MM road for the last 10 years. To my surprise I found that the forest department had record for only one death of a spotted deer that too at 10.00 am in the morning!!!

    All the claims of conservationists that tigers and elephants were found dead on Mysore Mananthavaadi Highway is false. This means that have provided wrong information to the authorities. How come the forest department has no record of any death on this road?

    I have a letter signed by the DCF of the park (nagarhole) and subsequently sent to me by the Chief Wildlife Warden that except a spotted deer, no animal has been killed on that road for the last 10 years.

    Protection of wildlife is important. At the same time economic development of society is also important. There has to be a harmonious balance. It cannot be at the cost of one of them.The issue of traffic cutting through bandipur has got nothing to do with night time. Even during the day time the vehicles go very fast. What do you do then?

    I have noticed that tourist traffic on bandipur highway often mixes booze and high speeds especially when they cut through forest areas. Even the Jeeps belonging to the DCF, ACF and RFOs do not maintain speed limits in Bandipur, even during day time (I have video recordings of department jeeps plying at high speeds)The truth is our Forest officials and police are incapable of containing these speeds even during the day. Therefore the easiest is to close the road in the night and make it safe for smugglers and poachers to operate peacefully without the fear of getting noticed by some responsible, passing vehicle that may put an end to their activities.
    Last edited by Sabyasachi Patra; 18-06-2009 at 01:54 PM. Reason: For ease of reading.

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    Interesting article. I really wonder if there is a workable solution to this. Educating people especially truck drivers and reckless irresponsible people is not easy instead its better to build barriers and speed breakers.

    I really at a loss for words here...just wish something works to curb this confusion and harm to the wildlife.

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    Hi Ramesh,
    The fact that only one spotted deer has been in a roadkill in the past 10 years seems somewhat not credible. Very often the forest officials hide/forge numbers to their advantage. This seems to be a case of that. A lot of deaths are often not reported or the carcasses are many a times lifted by the vehicles to serve as meals later. Do you really buy the fact that there has been only one death in 10 years???

    I'm Sorry... I don't...
    Last edited by Bibhav Behera; 17-06-2009 at 11:51 AM.
    Regards,
    Bibhav Behera
    www.bibhavbehera.com

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    One solution can be that the roads passing through the jungles are dirt tracks, so vehicals have to travel at a slow speed, which will also help in maintaining the speed limit. Contrary to this, the road through the jungle in Bandipur is a well maintained TAR road with no potholes, due to which it is very easy for all vehicals to speed.

    I fail to understand the reason of maintaining such a good road inside the jungle when all the roads in the city are full of potholes.
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

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    Hi Ramesh,

    To begin with I agree with Bibhav's response to your post. I also agree with you about the rush of vehicles at 6 am when the gates open. I had never thought of it that way.

    So why not close the road to prevent disturbance to wildlife AND place speed barriers all along the road?

    I also feel that - by any chance - if you have had, or currently have, commercial interests in the periphery of Kabini or Nagarhole, the members of this forum should know, so as to be able to better put your post in perspective.

    Apana

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    Hi Ramesh,

    You have raised some very valid points. But still, overall, the ban will work better. Here is why:

    1. Implementing of laws has been a fundamental shortcoming of the Indian 'system'. It'll be nearly impossible to control so many vehicles, especially at night.

    2. It is very likely that soon, people will learn of the ban and they'll plan their trips accordingly not to get stuck all night in the forest. This will avoid the 'queuing up'.

    3. Wild animals, being cautious by nature, will realise that mornings and days aren't the safest times to be out on the road, they'll very likely form a habit of crossing at night when it is safest. We might notice increased nocturnal activity along these roads. This is true for all roads passing through wildife areas.

    4. I refuse to buy what the forest department says about road kills. They're lying point blank. No debate about that.

    5. Speed breakers, awareness, better implementation are definitely necessary and can be used to control the day traffic. The night should be left completely to wildlife.

    Regards,
    Aditya

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    Default Closing roads through National Parks

    All. Thanks for all your responses. I agree with most of your views.* As Mr Apana said, let me state my background. I have been visiting Kabini area and Bandipur forests for the last 15 years. In kabini I have a house right next to the park in which I stay for about 3 weeks in a year Else the house is always closed. I spent 17 years in the IT industry and three years back I took up responsible eco-tourism, given my passion for wildlife. I set up two resorts called "Cicada" in Kabini and in Bandipur. I exited the eco-tourism business in Dec 2008 due to the lack of co-operation from forest officials. We could not launch any serious interpretation program except that my venture gave permanent jobs to 150 families (kabini and bandipur resorts) from the local villages and tribal families. They are well settled today with permanent jobs, bank accounts, salaries above government scales, cashless medical insurance etc. We also removed all the local money lending sharks and relieved many families from huge debts so that these 150 families are not dependent on the Forest for their lively hood. While my commercial interest was there for three years, i have always been a keen wildlife lover which i continue to do so even after i exited the business.*Talking about the road through kabini, none other than the PCCF has given to me in writing that they have record of only one spotted deer killed on that road in last 10 years. But it is the same forest department which closes the road saying that many animals are getting killed. Now look at this : The road was closed and the traffic was diverted through an alternate single-carriage-bad road cutting through many villages. These roads are not designed to carry truck traffic. A speeding truck killed an old lady crossing the road last year. Another truck killed a child playing on the road. These villagers never ever thought that traffic will be diverted through their door steps. Now who will answer for the loss of human lives. There have been many instances when sole bread winners of families meeting with accidents and rendering them useless. Suddenly their families are literally on the street. *Let them close the road through the national park. But let them provide an alternate viable road that does not kill human lives.* Personally i have known the kabini road for the last 15 years. One of the forum members here, Vikram, also know the place so well. We can vouch that in the last 15 years not a single cat was killed on that road and not a single elephant was killed on that road by trucks. The main reason was that the road was bad and no vehicles could drive very fast. We can do the same thing now. Introduce lot of speed breakers (scientifically designed) and bring the speed down. The solution is not in closing the road through the parks especially in the absence of alternative better roads.* Closing the road in the night means "Opening the road for poachers and smugglers" who will have a free run on these stretches. Anyone found on a closed road in the night cannot be charged under the wildlife protection act unless the act itself is amended. The act gives right of way to common man on roads cutting through national parks and the same cannot be treated as trespass. So even if we close the road and if someone voilates and enters the road, the person cannot be punished under WPA. So where is the fear?

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    My response is in blue.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger Ramesh View Post
    In Karnataka, two roads have been closed at Night times.
    1. The Mysore Mananthavaadi Highway (Kabini) through Nagarhole
    2. The road cutting through Bandipur (to Ooty and to Sulthan Bathery).

    The solution is not in closing the roads especially in the absence of alternate roads. There has to be a way to curtail speed of vehicles passing through. Also the drivers have to be educated first, warned subsequently and punished severly for repeated violations.

    Sabyasachi: I agree that we have to curtail speed of vehicles. Alternate roads will never come up if restrictions are not imposed.

    Your suggestion of warning and punishing for repeated violations is not enforceable. If you cancel driving licence of a driver, then he will get it from another district as there is no centralised system. Also, how will you find out whether he is a repeated offender? Educating the drivers is a good idea though, but doesn’t give the desired affect especially since the vehicular traffic disturbs wild animals. I have seen Gaurs and elephants running while crossing the road. They know that road means danger to them and they fear it. We have intruded into their life and are causing irreparable damage.

    Closing the road at nites does open up new issues which the authorities do not consider.
    Few issues are:
    1. Vehicles reach entry points in the evening especially the ones that come early bribe the guards and go thro the park, creating income opportunities for forest guards and officials.

    Sabyasachi: It is an enforcement issue and can be easily controlled. And this is not a sufficient reason.

    2. Other vehicles all queue up in the nite. The drivers and cleaners all team up to form a club to play cards and booze creating an opportunity at the edge of a protected area, while waiting for the park gate to open in the morning. They also create a market for venison and other forest meat to be served to them while they are spending the nite near the forest.


    Sabyasachi: Even now tourists booze on the road inside Bandipur Tiger Reserve. If you think the drivers and cleaners of stranded vehicles create a market for bush meat, then the villagers inside must be doing the same. Since you want the drivers and cleaners to move away from the park, I guess you must be raising your voice for relocation of the villagers as well??

    I would say poaching and consumption of forest meat is an enforcement issue. Patrolling has to be intensified.


    3. When the gate opens in the morning at 6 am, there is a sudden rush of trucks and vehicles trying to overtake each other. Sometimes the queue of vehicles are so long that the animals cannot use/cross the road for few hours. Large mammals and cats are still active in the mornings. So whats the point in allowing the traffic at 6 am if they cannot be allowed in the nite?

    Sabyasachi: In theory there is a possibility of trucks queuing. I haven’t seen long queue of trucks while entering the forest either from the Mudumalai side or from the Nagarhole Kutta side. It may have happened when the night traffic is halted for the first night as the truck drivers won’t be aware. Else, they would prefer to sleep in a village rather than near a forest, as most of the people have a fear of wild animals.

    The correct way of doing it is to build speed barriers and constant monitoring and education. The forest officials are incapable of doing these things. The easiest is for them to close the park and inconvenience common man.Closing the highway is against the principles outlined in the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. The Act gives right-of-way to humans on roads cutting through parks.

    Sabyasachi: Can you please quote the relevant sections of Indian Wildlife Protection Act to support your claim that it gives right of way to humans?

    Speed barriers should be there. Monitoring and Education should also be there. I too find that roads inside the Tiger reserves like Bandipur are well maintained though the 10-12km stretch of road before bandipur is bad. There is no need for good roads inside our forests that encourage high speed driving.

    However, the basic premise of closing a road in the night is to create less of disturbance. If we can't create inviolate spaces, atleast give our wildlife some peace in the night. If we allow driving through the forest in the night, then tomorrow you may ask for permissions for tourists to roam around our forests in the night, albeit at a reduced speed. The argument can be tourists should not be inconvenienced.

    Recently the government closed the MM Road through kabini between 6PM and 6AM based on complaints and representations filed by NGOs, conservationists etc. Subsequently the CEC and the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India made it an order to close the road in the nite. The orders were based on CEC inspection and facts provided by NGOs and Conservationists on animal deaths on this particular road.

    Sabyasachi: That was a good move.

    Under RTI, I applied to the PCCF of Karnataka and asked him to provide me with the details of all animal deaths on MM road for the last 10 years. To my surprise I found that the forest department had record for only one death of a spotted deer that too at 10.00 am in the morning!!!

    Sabyasachi: If this were true, then the records of the forest department is a joke. All of us know that. We keep on coming across road kills.

    All the claims of conservationists that tigers and elephants were found dead on Mysore Mananthavaadi Highway is false. This means that have provided wrong information to the authorities. How come the forest department has no record of any death on this road?

    Sabyasachi: We all know that intentionally most of the road kills of big fauna goes unreported. And noboby cares for the roadkills of lesser but equally important animals like civet cats, caracals, jackals, hyenas etc.The forest department should be hauled up for not recording the road kills. This is dereliction of duty.

    Also, people with good intentions should question the procedure of recording animal kills and see if they need to strengthen their processes. I am sure the forest department needs some help in developing robust processes.


    I have a letter signed by the DCF of the park (nagarhole) and subsequently sent to me by the Chief Wildlife Warden that except a spotted deer, no animal has been killed on that road for the last 10 years.


    Sabyasachi: If this is true, then a few officials should be hauled up for dereliction of duty. I am sure if we do enough search, we can find road kills photographed by various photographers.

    Protection of wildlife is important. At the same time economic development of society is also important. There has to be a harmonious balance. It cannot be at the cost of one of them.The issue of traffic cutting through bandipur has got nothing to do with night time. Even during the day time the vehicles go very fast. What do you do then?

    Sabyasachi: I agree that people drive at high speeds during daytime as well. However two wrongs don’t make it right.

    I agree that protection of wildlife and our wilderness is important. Economic development of a few individuals shouldn't be at the cost of the society and humanity as a whole.

    These pristine forests are the source of our water resources. Roads are fragmenting these places. The vehicular traffic is also leading to dumping of garbage in these areas leading to spoiling the source of our water resources. A cursory glance at our history books will tell us that civilisations have been wiped out due to lack of water. We have seen the consequence of uninterrupted “development” (read urbanisation) and its impact in places like Bombay (2005), Chennai (2005) to New Orleans (2005) in USA. Has anyone thought of the huge impact in terms of loss of life, and loss of homes, properties, businesses etc running into thousands of crores of rupees?

    I have noticed that tourist traffic on bandipur highway often mixes booze and high speeds especially when they cut through forest areas. Even the Jeeps belonging to the DCF, ACF and RFOs do not maintain speed limits in Bandipur, even during day time (I have video recordings of department jeeps plying at high speeds)The truth is our Forest officials and police are incapable of containing these speeds even during the day. Therefore the easiest is to close the road in the night and make it safe for smugglers and poachers to operate peacefully without the fear of getting noticed by some responsible, passing vehicle that may put an end to their activities.


    Sabyasachi: You are talking of an enforcement issue. I wish your visual documentation of wrong doings had been sent to the right people. We should complain else things won't change.

    Poaching is an enforcement issue. Strengthening the forest department and hauling them up if they are not performing is the way to go for controlling poaching. By smugglers were you referring to forest produce or with contraband or something else?

    Do you mean to say vehicular traffic in the night will stop poaching and smuggling? I would say that is a very simplistic assumption.

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    Mr Patra. Thanks for writing. Obviously you find everything right in closing the road. I find that closing the road is not the only solution. Hence our view points won't meet and i would not try to continue a chain of to and fro reply that may dilute the issue in hand and result in personality clashes.Few points:- Roads do not improve economic opportunities for few individuals but for a whole large population. On what basis do u say that it benefits only a few?? - Section 27.D of WPA gives a common man right of way on a highway cutting through a PA- We cannot shrug of issues by classifying them as "enforcement" issues. If enforcement was the only issue then we have various laws under which we could have provided protection to wildlife without having to close the roads at nite.- By smugglers and poachers i meant people carrying forest produce and not some imported contraband!!!!**** Having said the above, i would encourage constructive exchange of ideas. In this world we can have only view points but cant say thats the only right view
    Quote Originally Posted by Sabyasachi Patra View Post
    My response is in blue.*** Sabyasachi: You are talking of an enforcement issue. I wish your visual documentation of wrong doings had been sent to the right people. We should complain else things won't change. * * Poaching is an enforcement issue. Strengthening the forest department and hauling them up if they are not performing is the way to go for controlling poaching. By smugglers were you referring to forest produce or with contraband or something else? * * Do you mean to say vehicular traffic in the night will stop poaching and smuggling? I would say that is a very simplistic assumption.

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    Hi Ramesh,

    Thanks for letting us know that you are the Tiger Ramesh.

    I don't think a difference of opinion amounts to a personality clash. It is important that all of us who care about wildlife keep talking to one another.

    Since you are a former resort owner in Kabini and Bandipur and, perhaps, a potential resort owner, I feel your views are important as well.

    Apana

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    From Express Buzz:

    MYSORE: The Chamrajnagar Deputy Commissioner Manojkumar Mishra has ordered banning of vehicular movement between 9 pm and 6 am along the 29 kilometre stretch of the national highway through Bandipur national park, which in the last four years has seen 91 cases of wild animals being killed by speedy vehicles.

    My emphasis: the full article here:

    http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/s...WSxZV2TGM5XQ==

    Apana

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    Mr. Ramesh,
    I don't want to be disagreeable. I was just expressing my views. i also don't have any intention to have any personality clashes with anyone. The conservation movement in India is highly fragmented and needs to take along people of divergent views and create the best solution in the interests of the larger society.

    I had mentioned "Economic development of a few individuals shouldn't be at the cost of the society and humanity as a whole". By that I never meant one or two land owners. When a road passes near a small hamlet or village the price of real estate goes up. These people are likely to protest if an alternate alignment is worked out. However, for the greater benefit of the society it should be done.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

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    Default Scanned copy of letter from DCF on road kill

    Mr Apana - Thanks. I do not intend to be a resort owner anymore *** I have enclosed a scanned copy of the letter received from DCF Hunsur. Our question was, How many animals were killed in the last 10 years on Mysore Mananthavaadi Road? The reply from DCF is scanned and enclosed.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Ramesh, thanks for this.

    Apana

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    Even if wildlife photographers are not doing anything, the general public are. In response to a PIL the High Court has stayed the restoration of traffic through the sanctuary.

    http://www.deccanherald.com/content/...-bandipur.html

    Apana

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