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Madras High Court expresses concern over death of 152 wild animals in road accidents on Bannari-Dhimbam stretch

The court has asked officials to consider banning vehicle movements at nights

With the death of 152 wild animals, including three leopards, due to road accidents on the Coimbatore–Bengaluru National Highway 958 that passes through Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR), the Madras High Court has asked officials concerned to explore the possibility of banning vehicle movements between Bannari and Dhimbam at nights..

Hearing a batch of writ petitions on January 25, the bench comprising Justice V. Bharathidasan and Justice N. Sathish Kumar, said that precious lives of wild animals were lost between 2012 and 2021 due to high vehicular movements and the drivers of those vehicles were not adhering to speed limits.

The District Road Safety Committee, Erode, issued a notification in Erode District Gazette (extraordinary) dated January 7, 2019 that banned vehicle movement on the stretch from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. However, the order was implemented only for a few months after which all types of vehicles were plying without any restrictions, the court observed.

Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden and Nihar Ranjan, Field Director, STR, told the court that banning movement of certain types of vehicles during night hours on the Mysore–Calicut Highway in the Nilgiris district that passes through Mudumalai Tiger Reserve prevented the death of wild animals.

The court asked Su. Srinivasan, standing counsel for National Highways Authority of India to get suitable instruction from authorities regarding the restriction of vehicle movement between Bannari and Dhimbam and posted the next hearing for January 28.

The court also took note of the fact that the 25 km-road from Bannari to Thengumarahada that passes through the core tiger area has 30% of STR’s total tiger population. Since the area is also the breeding place for tigers and other wildlife animals, the court asked Collectors of the Nilgiris, Coimbatore and Erode districts to appear through video conference during the hearing on Friday.

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