Mysuru: Following the announcement of a survey work for the proposed Thalassery-Mysuru Railway line that will pass through Kutta, Kanoor, Balele and Thithimathi in Kodagu district cutting across thick forest area, Green groups in Kodagu have opposed the project. They have threatened even to stop the survey work that will be a prelude to the destruction of Kodagu.
The agreement to go ahead with the survey and prepare a Detailed Project Report was reached last week following a high-level meeting between officials led by Kerala Chief Secretary K.M. Abraham and Karnataka Chief Secretary Subhash Chandra Khuntia in Bengaluru.
Speaking to Star of Mysore, Col. (Rtd.) C.P. Muthanna of Coorg Wildlife Society said it was unfortunate that the Railway line was coming up cutting Kodagu despite Kodagu District In-charge Minister M.R. Seetharam assuring him a couple of times that Railways will not be allowed to enter Kodagu.
“I had met the Minister at the District Coffee Growers’ Association meeting that was held recently and he had assured me that the ecology of Kodagu will be safeguarded at any cost. Despite this, it is surprising that the Chief Secretaries of Karnataka and Kerala have signed an agreement and have ordered a survey,” he said.
Muthanna said that a Minister is always powerful than the Chief Secretary. “We are left wondering who is more powerful here. While the Minister says that Railways will not be allowed inside Kodagu, the Chief Secretary goes ahead and signs the agreement,” he said and added that the Minister had even assured him that he would write to the Centre, opposing the Railway line.
“Kodagu, being an eco-sensitive and fragile district, is already facing man-elephant conflict as forests are devastated. The recent destruction was brought about by the high-tension power line that has passed through Kodagu connecting Mysuru and Kozhikode. This project resulted in a loss of over 50,000 trees. Now the Railway line will spell doom for Kodagu and will further increase the man-animal conflict,” he added.
The proposed Railway line between Thalassery and Mysuru will link the proposed line from Kushalnagar to Mysuru for which the survey has already been completed. The Mysuru-Madikeri Railway line was listed in the Railway Budget 2016-17 under ‘new line’ category at an estimated cost of Rs. 667 crore. Though the techno-economic survey was completed, the project — originally mooted over 100 years ago — did not gain further traction. The funding was to be made under the extra budgetary allocation, but it is stuck in the maze of bureaucracy.
Similarly, the Mysuru-Thalassery Railway line was suggested almost 60 years ago but it remained on paper. The project has political and public support in Kerala as it reduces the travel time between North Kerala and Bengaluru.
All these years, Karnataka government had been pussy-footing the project saying the project would destroy the Nagarahole National Park as the line cuts through it at a couple of places. Now the governments of Karnataka and Kerala have agreed on a survey as per the new alignment that will bypass forestland and national parks and other ecologically-sensitive zones.