Even as the Central Government has been repeatedly saying that the controversial and environmentally destructive Thalassery-Mysuru Railway Line project via South Kodagu has been shelved, officials of Konkan Railway Corporation have been silently conducting a survey in South Kodagu and its green belt for Railway line to pass.
Yesterday, a few officials of Konkan Railway Corporation were spotted conducting a survey on private lands at Badaga and Kumatoor villages and they were taken into task by villagers. The survey team was led by Adarsh Agarwal and they had come to the village in a Maharashtra-registered vehicle (MH-04 MY-4484).
Villagers, who spotted the officials at their private lands, questioned what they were doing in the private land. Caught unawares, the officials fumbled for answers and when the villagers insisted, they said that they were from Konkan Railway Corporation and were assigned with conducting a survey for the proposed Thalassery-Mysuru Railway Line project.
The 240-km-long Thalassery-Mysuru rail line project has been mooted at an estimated cost of Rs.5,052 crore and it will pass through Kutta, Kanoor, Balele and Thithimathi in Kodagu cutting across thick forest area.
Shocked by the survey at a time when the Centre, MP Pratap Simha and the State Government have repeatedly denied that the project will be taken up, the villagers prevented the officials from carrying out the survey. The official team had carried with them the map of the area, its green cover and the blueprint on the roads that pass through the area.
Officials told the villagers that they had already completed the survey of Kutta, K. Badaga and the Railway line will connect Kattikkulam in Kerala. They revealed to the villagers that the places for the Railway Stations at Kutta, Kanoor and Kattikkulam have already been identified.
When the villagers told the officials about the opposition to the Railway line and the destruction it will cause for environment, they said that they were not aware of the issues. The villagers later asked the officials to leave the place and also told them that their act of entering private lands without permission tantamount to trespassing and cases could be booked against them. Later, the officials left the place.
It may be recalled here that a mass protest was held in Mysuru on Feb.18 against the Railway line. The protest was organised by ‘Save Kodagu’ forum that comprised many organisations and Kodava Samajas in Mysuru and Kodagu.
After the protest and before the public opinion against the Railway line grew, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Kodagu-Mysuru MP Pratap Simha had stated that in view of the opposition, the controversial project has been scrapped as it is environmentally destructive, they had said.
“As the Kerala Government proposed the project, Karnataka raised environmental concerns as the line would pass through an eco-sensitive zone. The two Sates have to resolve the issue and Karnataka should consent to the project before it makes headway,” Goyal had said.
Speaking to Star of Mysore regarding the survey by Konkan Railway Corporation, MLA K.G. Bopaiah said that many villagers complained to him about the secret survey. “I had asked the villagers to send the officials back and they have done it accordingly. We will not allow the Railway line to pass through Kodagu at any cost,” he said.
Coorg Wildlife Society President Col. (retd.) C.P. Muthanna, who spearheaded the movement against the Railway line, said that he has brought the issue to the notice of MP Pratap Simha and had requested him to meet Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to convince him to drop the project. “We will decide on the future course of action to be adopted,” he added.