Rahul to visit Wayanad to join youth protesting highway ban

Thiruvananthapuram: Wayanad Congress MP Rahul Gandhi will pay a quick visit to his constituency on October 3 solely with the aim of expressing solidarity with the youth who are on an indefinite protest against the nine-hour traffic ban on the Bangalore-Kozhikode stretch of the National Highway passing through the Bandipur reserve forest.

The protest entered the sixth day on Monday with the protestors demanding the lifting of night traffic bans on the National Highway (NH) stretch cutting through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, which is located in Wayanad district.

The traffic ban has caused hardship to residents living on either side of the Kerala-Karnataka border.

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Speaking to IANS, Gandhi’s close aide at the constituency, Biju, said that he has already expressed his solidarity in a tweet.

“He (Gandhi) is arriving on October 3rd to spend time with the youth who are on an indefinite fast at Sulthan Bathery. Gandhi will arrive in the afternoon and will return in the evening itself,” Biju said.

Gandhi is also scheduled to meet on Tuesday in the national capital with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has already taken up the issue with Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Earlier, Vijayan had demanded the construction of an elevated highway through the reserve forest so that the animals are able to move freely in their habitat, but the proposal was turned down by the Environment Ministry.

With the night ban in force, vehicles have to halt and wait at two points on the Kerala-Karnataka border, and are allowed to continue their journey after the ban gets over early in the morning.

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