The National Highway 766 Transport Protection Action Committee is preparing to launch an indefinite agitation with the support of similar organisations at Gundlupet in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka raising a slew of demands including lifting of night traffic ban in the Bandipur portion of the Kozhikode-Kollegal NH 766.
Suresh Thaloor, general convener of the action committee, said the ban on traffic between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. had already affected the people of north Kerala, especially Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.
Moreover, the Supreme Court had last week asked the Centre to respond to its suggestion on developing an alternative route in the case pertaining to the closure of night traffic through Bandipur, Mr. Suresh said. If the proposal is implemented, it will worsen the hardship of people, he added. Hence the organisation has decided to mount pressure on both the State governments and the Centre to maintain status quo.
I.C. Balakrishnan, MLA, and chairman of the organisation, will meet his counterpart in the Gundlupet Assembly constituency in Karnataka in a couple of days and chalk out the mode of agitation, he said.
Meanwhile, Wayanad Chamber of Commerce president Johnny Pattani said if the apex court directive was implemented, it would adversely affect the economy of the hill district, besides worsening the misery of travellers in both States.
The proposed 12-km alternative road, passing through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, will force people to travel nearly 45 km more to reach Mysuru from Kalpetta.
A study conducted by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) in 2014 had suggested that a bypass from Sulthan Bathery to Begur in Karnataka through Valluvadi in Kerala and Chikkibergi in Karnataka would be the most convenient alternative route to connect Karnataka and Wayanad as its stretch through the forest would be only 9 km long. Moreover, the road is already in use for meeting the needs of the Forest departments of both States. Hence the government should consider developing the road, it had said.
The ban on night traffic was implemented on the directive of the Mysuru Deputy Commissioner in 2009 to offer wild animals a reprieve from vehicular movement. It was challenged in the High Court of Karnataka, but the decision was upheld. The matter is now being heard in the Supreme Court.