Bandipur Ecology In The Line Of Fire
AMONG the 166 National Parks in India, the Bandipur National Park in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka stands out for its tiger population. The 85-year-old wildlife sanctuary rooted in culture and history, symbolising cooperation and friendship between Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Through the park runs the Mysuru-Ooty national highway which links major destinations. Since 2009, night traffic has been banned on the highway through which the park traverses. The 9 pm to 6 am ban is meant to save the animals from hit-and-run accidents. It is also aimed at protecting the vehicles and human beings from a possible animal attack. The repeated pleas of the Kerala government to lift the ban were not entertained by Karnataka for obvious reasons. Recently, the Centre discussed a plan to build flyovers every two km stretch of the road and broaden the 25-km stretch between Bandipur and Wayanad (Kerala). An elevated road corridor is on the mind of the Centre. After initially giving its nod to the Centre’s proposal, Karnataka has gone back to pledge its loyalty to the Supreme Court, which is seized of the matter, through a public interest litigation. The National Highway Authorities of India and the Kerala government on one side and the Karnataka government and the National Tiger Conservation Authority on the other seem to have taken up cudgels against one another. Economy, education and tourism are hit by the ban; but they are secondary to the all-important issues of prevention of ecosystem. Infrastructural improvement should not clash with the preservation of nature. Though the Centre’s plan will allow the animals to move through underpasses and fences proposed to be built, the massive deforestation and the subsequent animal disturbances including piercing the core tiger areas may hit the sanctity and peace in Bandipur and the adjoining wildlife sanctuaries. Facts point to nearly 50 per cent reduction in accidents at the stretch after the closure of the road. Tigers, elephants and other wild animals have the right to live, and exist peacefully, in their natural habitats.
GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
End This Unscrupulous Taxi Raj
MOBILE phone application-based taxi services of the state tourism department will soon become a reality in Goa, much to the displeasure and opposition by cabbies in South Goa. While app-based taxi services will prove to be a boon for tourists and the affluent class, the common man in Goa will continue to be at the mercy of taxi and rickshaw operators with their demands and exorbitant fares. Even motorcycle taxi riders have now jumped onto their bandwagon by charging a minimum fare of Rs 40. So, the only option remaining is local buses. The transport department, on the other hand, continues with its flip-flops taking people on a roller-coaster ride and reneging on its promises to bring all taxis and rickshaws under the digital meter system within three months, a year or two ago. It is a shame that we are unable to implement the digital meter system in our state and stop the daylight robbery of people by the taxi mafia.
A F NAZARETH, ALTO PORVORIM
Let Merit Govern Our Governments
KUDOS to Michael Vaz for the letter titled ‘Equality of status and opportunity’ (NT, August 6, 2018). Indeed the hard reality remains that that the policy of reservation has simply murdered meritocracy in this society. Had the concerned authorities indeed desired to ensure welfare in the society then irrespective of caste or demographic status, underprivileged and financially weak of all possible vintage should have been awarded absolute free education. And following such humanitarian steps, all seats of higher education are required to be filled through equal competition. In that scenario nobody will have any undue advantage through the backdoor of “birth status”, nobody will have to suffer discrimination or heartburn; meritorious students can be retained in this land. But that is obviously not to be. After all, the mandarins are least concerned about the development of the country or the poor. Rather they are increasingly banking upon extension of reservation sops to all and sundry so as to boost caste-centred vote bank. Indeed it is a disgrace to see how eligible persons are denied of their right of higher education and services despite faring exceedingly well. Also it is nothing but an eyesore to view promotion or appeasement of various caste groups despite engaging in the rhetoric of “equality of all Indians”! As if “holy cows” in the name of caste is not only being nurtured in the sphere of higher education and jobs, they are being pampered through special laws as well! Yes, the hard fact remains that even in this “progressive” age, Dalits get tortured or discriminated in various regions. So the culprits should be definitely awarded harshest of harsh punishment. But that does not mean that the innocents among the “privileged” group can be framed or blackmailed through the misuse of pro-Dalit laws! After all two wrongs don’t make a right! It is high time the concerned authorities learned to rise above petty caste barriers and make demography neutral laws, save the innocent and punish the guilty irrespective of one’s caste status.
KAJAL CHATTERJEE, KOLKATA