Rajahmundry: Plan to halt traffic in forest at night

Rajahmundry: Forest officials proposed curbs on vehicular traffic, especially at night, following the recent accidents involving wild animals, including leopard, bison and reptiles at Maredumilli road crossing of Papikonda National Park.

Maredumilli, in Rampachodavaram agency in East Godavari, was a popular tourist destination with eco-tourism centre Vana Vihari and a Tiger Camp. Maredumilli-Bhadrachalam and Maredumilli-Chintur Ghat roads had heavy traffic with tourists and regular passengers travelling from Rajahmundry to Bhadrachalam and other areas.

The two-lane ghat road passes through thick forest area and the road-crossing for wild animals was turning into a vulnerable point for them getting hit by vehicles. Animals generally crossed the ghat road at night which was most preferred by long-distance travellers.

Recently, an Indian bison, a leopard and several snakes, including king cobras, were hit by speeding vehicles on the Maredumilli ghat road, raising concern among forest authorities and animal lovers. Indian bison and the leopard were in Schedule-1 under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The forest authorities proposed to impose curbs on vehicular movement on the ghat road from the outskirts of Maredumilli village to Tiger Camp, a distance of about 30 km. Forest check posts would be set up on either end of the road and forest guards posted to prevent entry of vehicles. The time for regulation of vehicles was being tentatively fixed between 10 pm and 6 am.

There could be relaxation for public vehicles like RTC buses and emergency vehicles. Forest officials were trying to get details on ways to regulate vehicle movements. 

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