HC bans movement of vehicles through tiger reserve to Pulmedu

Kochi, Jul 6 (PTI) The Kerala High Court today banned movement of vehicles on a 10-km stretch to Pulmedu through the Periyar Tiger Reserve following the tragedy in which 102 Sabarimala pilgrims were killed in a stampede in January.A division bench comprising justices Thothathil B Radhakrishanan and K S Surendra Mohan prohibited the entry of vehicles from the fourth mile to Pulmedu which passes through the reserve.The court said the reserve was a protected area.”After declaration of an area as sanctuary, such area will get recognition that it is of immense ecological, natural, zoological significance. The prime purpose is for protecting and developing wildlife and environment,” it said.The existing passage from the fourth mile to Pulmedu is only needed for forest officials to perform duties. It was through this route a large number of vehicles passed to Pulmedu, the court held.Pointing out that this was not a tourist spot, the bench said the movement of large number of vehicles from this jungle path creates adverse environment and sound effect, harming the flora and fauna.”Process of disaster management can never be permitted to remain as disaster. Disaster management has to be taken on a war-footing since the very gospel of disaster management is that prevention is better than cure,” the judges said on suo motu proceedings initiated pursuant to the Pulmedu stampede.Forests need to be protected, the bench said, adding, it finds no reason to permit vehicles through the route.The tragedy occurred when the pilgrims were returning after offering prayers at the hill shrine on makara samkranthi day on January 14, which marked the finale of the annual pilgrimage to the Lord Ayyappa temple.

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