Deforestation, heavy rainfall caused destruction in Kodagu: Report
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Deforestation, heavy rainfall caused destruction in Kodagu: Report

Technical Team from Mysuru recommends immediate afforestation, ban on commercial exploitation of land

Mysuru: A report by the Technical Team of The Institution of Engineers (India), Mysuru Local Centre, has identified the causes for the recent destruction in Kodagu by catastrophic floods and landslides.

The report has pointed fingers at indiscriminate development, cutting of trees, unregulated road construction and property development coupled with heavy to very heavy rainfall and has described the destruction as man-made.

The initiative of preparing such a report was taken by Hunsur MLA A.H. Vishwanath, who is also the State JD(S) President. He had called a meeting on Aug. 25 and had asked the Institution of Engineers to throw light on the causes of floods and landslides and suggest ways and means to stop future calamities.

The Technical Team was headed by Major General (Retd.) S.G. Vombatkere and has 11 members. The report, that has been prepared after extensively studying the topography of Kodagu and assessing the damage, has been submitted to the State Government for consideration and action.

The team visited the sites of damages to the arterial roads in Kodagu on Aug. 26 to assess the damages and the possible causes for landslips which interrupted road transportation including National and State Highways.

Timber harvesting menace

The team visited several sites on National Highway 275 and State Highway 27 where landslips had occurred due to extremely heavy rainfall. Studying the land patterns, the team observed that soil-and-vegetation-covered slopes which were stabilised over millions of years in Kodagu have been destabilised by deforestation for timber harvesting, levelling for agriculture, or cutting of earth across slopes for road or building construction.

The report states, “From the Technical Team’s site inspection, interaction with technical and residents and availability of information from the media, large-scale destruction in Kodagu over the last few years appears to be the cause for massive landslides. Also, the combination of man-made causes (development  interventions like road construction and property development) and extremely heavy and prolonged rainfall has caused extensive damage.”

Large-scale destruction

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“Deforestation has been happening over the decades due to human incursions into the Western Ghats (Kodagu is part of Western Ghats) for reasons like road construction, power transmission lines, ore mining, stone quarrying, sand mining, ground water extraction, change of land use from forest to agriculture or human settlement, tourism, etc. Deforestation has been occurring gradually and incrementally as well as on a larger scale for government-sponsored infrastructure projects,” the report observes.

Besides affecting rainfall patterns, deforestation in Kodagu seriously affects the surface and subsoil water capacity of the Cauvery River basin. This represents a threat to the water security of all people of the four States in the Cauvery basin — Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry — the report says.

Madhav Gadgil Committee

The experts believe that large-scale destruction in Kodagu could have been averted if the recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil Committee (2011) on Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZs) of the Western Ghats had been implemented. The subsequent Kasturirangan Report on the Western Ghats recommends substantially milder measures. Even these have been rejected by all States — Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Maharashtra — of the Western Ghats, the report states.

In order to prevent recurrence of large-scale destruction, the Committee recommends that the State Government should consider taking some urgent measures in addition to all measures for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Kodagu.

Prevention of tree-felling

The Committee has recommended strict prevention of deforestation and tree-felling in the name of development. It has recommended penal action against those who perpetrate crime against the nature. The Committee has advocated an immediate beginning to afforestation (planting) of endemic  species of saplings on all deforested slopes.

It has called to put an end to all infrastructural projects which threaten the ecology of the Western Ghats. The Committee has recommended for a complete stop on ore-mining and sand-mining. It has called for action against polluting industries or activities.

The Committee has recommended that no permission must be accorded to Special Economic Zone(s), and conversion of public lands into private ownership must be banned.

 

September 14, 2018

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Deforestation, heavy rainfall caused destruction in Kodagu: Report”

  1. BR Ravishankar says:

    Thank you for the coverage. Kindly provide a link to the full report.
    Also, please provide an update if possible, on the disaster recovery activities in terms of waste and debris management, protection against chemical, biological and hazardous materials, etc. in Karnataka. Thank you.

  2. RATHANBABU B KILAR says:

    Timber harvesting in a systematic way in all the Genimales, Rubber Plantations, Private Coffee Estates & Jamma Tenure lands in the Disaster affected area is progressing since 1970. Deputy Conservator of Forests will have the Village wise & Survey number wise details of Timber cleared from these Forest land of Eco Sensitive Zone. The details of Land Conversion from Last Ten years for Projects like Taj Vivanta, Club Mahindra and Many Resorts is available in Deputy Commissioners office. Since the Reconstruction of Roads & Culverts has started, wish the concerned take note of points mentioned by the expert Engineers in their report. By the Flying few hours visit they could throw so much light on technical flaws and lapses. The Authorities of NHAI & Indian Road Congress need to reply to the observations. KRDCL & other authorities should take responsibility of the construction. Learnt from people taken shelter in relief camps in Sampaje that Resort like construction in more than 300 acres are coming up in the hills around JODUPALA. This need to be investigated in detail & strict action taken for the damages and un licensed construction.

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