Traffic banned, resorts blocked, safari cancelled for citizens ahead of PM Modi visit to Bandipur

The Congress hits out at Election Commission of India for allowing Modi's event when the model code of conduct is in place in Karnataka.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Apr 07, 2023 | 10:53 PM Updated Apr 08, 2023 | 12:42 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Bandipur and Mysuru on 9 April. (Supplied).

In the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Chamarajanagar’s Bandipur National Tiger Reserve on Sunday, 9 April, the district administration has not only banned the movements of heavy vehicles on the Bandipur–Ooty National Highway 181, but has also restricted visitors from booking resorts, homestays, and jungle lodges in Bandipur and Mudumalai.

The prime minister will be on a two-day visit to Tamil Nadu’s Chennai and Mudumalai and Karnataka’s Bandipur and Mysuru on 8 and 9 April.

It will be his eighth visit to poll-bound Karnataka this year, where elections are due on 10 May.

Modi’s visit to the South

In Karnataka, Modi will visit the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in the morning and interact with frontline field staff and self-help groups involved in conservation activities. He is also scheduled to interact with field directors of tiger reserves on 9 April.

The prime minister will also inaugurate the programme “Commemoration of 50 years of Project Tiger” and will release the publications “Amrit Kaal ka Vision for Tiger Conservation”, declare tiger numbers, and release a summary report of All India Tiger Estimation (5th cycle) at the Karnataka State Open University in Mysuru.

On the occasion, Modi will also release a commemorative coin on the completion of 50 years of Project Tiger.

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Safari, resort bookings cancelled

For a mere three-hour visit by Modi to Bandipur, the Chamarajanagar District Administration has not only cancelled the safari in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, but also restricted people from booking jungle lodges, resorts, and homestays in the same region for five days, starting 5 April.

According to the district administration, “In the wake of prime minister’s visit to Bandipur to take part in the commemoration of 50 years of Project Tiger, the safari services have been called-off and booking of the resorts, homestays, and lodges are also restricted due to traffic management, preparations for the prime minister’s event and security reasons. The safari has been restricted from all visitors from 5 April to 9 April 2023.”

Deputy Commissioner Ramesh D S has issued restriction orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Dr Ramesh Kumar P, Conservator of Forests and Field Officer, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, told South First, “The safari services have been cancelled for five days due to the prime minister’s visit. The prime minister is likely to take a safari during his visit to Bandipur.”

He added: “We have also restricted resorts, lodges, and homestays from taking any booking from the visitors till 9 April. However, those visitors who have come without the information about the prime minister’s event will be allowed to stay in private resorts.”

Also read: PM Modi visited Karnataka 7 times, Shah 8, Nadda 10 in 2023 

Netizens unhappy 

Meanwhile, netizens have expressed anger over the district administration’s decision to cancel the safari and restrict hotel bookings for five days when there is a long weekend ahead.

Big detour for heavy vehicles 

In the wake of the prime minister’s event at Bandipur, the district administration and district police have restricted the movement of heavy vehicles between Bandipur and Ooty on NH-181 for two days from 7 April. This has forced heavy vehicles to take a detour of over 80 kilometres.

The district police have diverted the traffic to Gundlupet–Sulthan Bathery (Kerala) National Highway 766.

Superintendent of Police Padmini Sahoo told South First, “We are restricting traffic movement for two days in Bandipur-Ooty NH. The heavy vehicles are being restricted from 7 April and private vehicles from 8 April. It is because of the security reasons the traffic movement has been restricted. We have asked all vehicles to travel on alternative route Gundlupet–Sulthan Bathery highway.”

“With this traffic diversion, all the vehicles that are travelling to Ooty have to take a detour of over 80 km. Apart from this, the vehicles have to travel via Kerala. This will not only consume more time, but we also have to travel an additional 80 km,” Basavaraj SK, a disgruntled resident of Chamarajanagar, told South First.

Also read: BJP’s mantra is development, not vote bank politics: PM Modi

Opposition blames ECI for allowing event 

The Karnataka State Election Commission permitting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take part in a government event when the model code of conduct (MCC) is in place in Karnataka is being severely criticised by the Congress.

The ministers shall not combine their official visit with electioneering work and make use of official machinery or personnel during the electioneering work, however, the Commission has exempted the prime minister from the operation of the model code of conduct provision pertaining to the combining of an official visit with an electioneering visit, according to the Election Commission of India’s official website.

Karnataka’s Chief Electoral Officer Manoj Kumar Meena told South First, “The ECI has permitted the Project Tiger programme with the condition that no model code of conduct provision should be violated.”

“The prime minister is not allowed to use the stage to deliver a political speech as the MCC is in place,” an official from the ECI told South First.

Also read: Modi lauds Karnataka, Congress makes ‘trouble engine sarkar’ jibe

Congress hits back at Modi

With the prime minister scheduled to interact with frontline workers and self-help groups during his visit to Bandipur, the Congress has expressed concern that it would amount to the violation of MCC as there will be chances of influencing voters.

Priyank Kharge, incumbent MLA and Communication chairman, KPCC, told South First, “The ECI should not have been allowed to organise the prime minister’s event when the MCC is already in place. The ECI is acting like a puppet of the Union government. It is no more the Constitution institution. It is a violation of MCC.”

“We have to appreciate the prime minister that he is expert in taking credits such as Project Tiger which was done by Congress. Why did he get sudden love for tigers and elephants?” asked Kharge.

Also read: Congress chief Kharge slams Modi, calls bandh against corruption

Continued problems for common man

This is hardly the first time a visit by Modi or Shah has caused problems for people — local or otherwise.

During Modi’s visit to Belagavi in late February, the district’s education setup cancelled the PU examinations of several students on the day the prime minister was there.

Meanwhile, bus services were suspended in at least 40 villages and reduced in the Vijayapura, Dharwad, and Hubballi districts.

The previous month, students of the Karnataka University in Dharwad were told to vacate the hostel so that guests for the National Youth Festival — which Modi attended — could be accommodated.