24-hour toll collection idea behind move to lift Bandipur night traffic ban?

CHAMARAJANAGAR: Did the Union Ministry for Road Transport and Highways push the proposal to lift the night traffic ban via NH 766 passing through Maddur and Moolehole ranges of Bandipur National Park so that it can collect toll at three points on the highway round the clock? Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has already made it clear that there is no move to lift the night traffic ban. 

Sources said that after the ban on night traffic was imposed in Bandipur, there is a hurdle to toll collection. As per an official estimate, as many as 13,000 people travel on the NH via Gundlupet to various destinations in Kerala every week and the number of vehicles operating on the highway swells on holidays. Wildlife conservationist Arul Badshah who is based in Wyanad, Kerala, adds that by lifting the night ban in Bandipur, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is eyeing a substantial increase in the toll collection on the highway as the number of travellers using various modes of transport will increase though it could also put wild animals at risk.

Mr Arul told Deccan Chronicle that 10,000 homestays are in the region and visitors think of leaving the place early on account of night traffic ban in Bandipur which costs homestay owners their income. These homestay owners too are lobbying for  lifting the night traffic ban.  The ban has been in force since 2009 on NH-67 leading to Ooty via Bandipur and on NH-766 linking Waynad through Moolehole forest range of Bandipur keeping in mind safety of nocturnal animals which often cross the road and get killed.  

The NH-766 was upgraded at a cost of Rs 490 crore. It connects Karnataka with Kerala via Gundlupet in Chamarajanagar. Three toll plazas have been set up at Gargeshwari village close to T. Narsipura, near Kadakola in Mysuru district and near the Maddur forest gate in Gundlupete of Chamarajanagar where toll collection is scheduled to start in a couple of months. The process of handing over the upgraded NH to NHAI by state officials is underway and might be completed in a couple of months before NHAI invites tenders for toll plaza at three points on the highway.

“Observations have been conducted on NH-766 on a number of vehicles plying on the route. Once, we get a proper assessment of the travellers, officials concerned of NHAI in New Delhi will fix separate toll fares for different types of vehicles using the highway,” says a source in NHAI.  Mr Arul said CM H.D. Kumaraswamy declining to accept the proposal to lift the night ban is a big relief to all animal lovers.


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