Motorists who make a pit stop inside the forests of Karnataka and disturb the wildlife will now have to pay a hefty fine, according to officials from the Karnataka Forest Department (KFD), as per this Bangalore Mirror report.
“Some motorists pull over under the trees for a smoke or to consume liquor. Others stop at regular intervals to feed or tease animals. Tourists stop to click photographs of wildlife and landscape. While doing so, they not only litter but disturb wildlife and also end up jeopardising their lives as a wild animal could attack them. There have been instances when vehicles or passengers are chased by animals. We wanted to put an end to these illegal activities,” said a senior KFD officer to the publication.
Based on a complaint issued by the Conservator of Forests and Director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, the KFD has framed a new set of rules and regulations.
As per the order, forest department staff are expected to register the entry and exit time of every vehicle that passes through.
Any delay (making a pitstop en route) or an early exit (overspeeding) will costs motorists a hefty fine.
The fine has been fixed at Rs 1,000 for the first hour, Rs 2,000 per hour for the next two hours, Rs 3000 per hour for the next three hours, and Rs 4000 per hour for the next six hours.
Cumulatively, if a motorist decides to spend 12 hours, he/she will have to pay Rs 38,000.
How will KFD staff keep track of time spent?
They will calculate this by measuring the length of the stretch and the legal 35 km per hour speed limit. The KFD will track these vehicles on an app called “Gasthu” endowed with GPS technology.
“While letting vehicles inside the forest, the personnel at the check post would inform them of the various conditions like no stoppage, no honking, no photography, no teasing or feeding animals, no littering, no smoking, no overstaying and no drinking. They will also be told to drive at a maximum speed of 35 km per hour keeping in mind the safety of wildlife. This would ensure prevention of roadkill too,” said a field officer from Nagarhole Tiger Reserve to Bangalore Mirror.
There are seven major roads that run through the protected forests of Karnataka, including inter-state highways between Karnataka and Kerala and Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Evidently, the rule stating that vehicles passing through a forest are only allowed between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. has done little to mitigate bad behaviour in forests, and KFD is looking to shake things up.