Citizen activists to meet Deputy Commissioner, the Head of District Heritage Committee, on Jan. 25
Mysore/Mysuru: Taking further their preliminary meeting to decide the future course of action against the proposed development project of Chamundi Hill under the Centre’s Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) scheme, citizen activists, Chamundi Betta Ulisi Samithi and Parisara Balaga activists have decided to meet Deputy Commissioner (DC) Dr. K.V. Rajendra on Jan. 25. The aim of the meeting is to get a clear-cut idea about the proposed development project at an estimated cost of Rs. 48.3 crore to provide additional facilities for tourists. At a meeting convened at Cheluvamba Park in the city yesterday, the activists decided on meeting the DC to ascertain the impact of the proposed projects on the environment, biodiversity and the threat to lung space.
Alleging that the elected representatives and the officers are taking unilateral decisions on the development of the Chamundi Hill, the participants resolved to fight unitedly under the banner of Chamundi Betta Ulisi Samithi. They decried the lack of accountability when it came to Chamundi Hill where stakeholders are sidelined and pertinent issues like environment and biodiversity brushed under the carpet.
The meeting resolved to press for project clearance from the District Heritage Committee as the Chamundi Hill, the Sri Chamundeshwari Temple and the surrounding ancient structures and temples are all integral part of Mysuru’s heritage. The next course of action will be decided after getting the complete project information, its pros and cons and environment impact.
Sketchy project info
At present, the project information is sketchy and trickling in bits and pieces with no concrete information on the overall project. “We will convey our apprehensions and fears to the DC, who is the Head of the District Heritage Committee, and we will insist on the approval by the Heritage Committee before any development project is taken up atop the Chamundi Hill which has already been a victim of unbridled development,” said Prof. N.S. Rangaraju, retired Professor from the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore, who is also a Member of Heritage Conservation Committee, Government of Karnataka.
“TVS has come forward to restore the dilapidated government school atop Chamundi Hill and has sought the approval of the District Heritage Committee. We are happy that our public movement has at least resulted in this change where the approval of the Heritage Committee is sought before development,” Prof. Rangaraju added.
Citizens kept in the dark
Noted water conservationist and an advocate of alternative technologies U.N. Ravikumar said that though the taxpayers’ money is being spent on developing the Chamundi Hill, the citizens are kept in the dark about the project. “We must demand greater consultation as the Chamundi Hill and its biodiversity are crucial for the survival of Mysuru. It is the city’s natural and heritage asset. Given the environmental sensitivity, the focus should be on conservation,” he said.
Ravikumar added that in fact, the Government must take up projects that complement the ecology and biodiversity. “Unfortunately, all the development works that have already been undertaken atop the Hill like the multi-level parking lot and others are against biodiversity and have caused great harm to the unique flora and fauna. The Government must encourage public transport to the Hill and ban private vehicles,” he added.
Suggesting to make Chamundi Hill a carbon-neutral area by 2030 by utilising solar technology and earmarking a buffer zone around the foothill, Ravikumar said that the Chamundi Hill has already exceeded its carrying capacity and this is evident due to a series of landslides.
Chamundi Hill Development Authority
Founder President of Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) Bhamy V. Shenoy reiterated the demand for the constitution of Chamundi Hill Development Authority to regulate unrestricted growth and exploitation that is against the environment. “Elected representatives give public statements to suit their agenda and as a result, most part of the Chamundi Hill is destroyed. It is important to create public awareness about the systematic destruction,” he added.
It may be mentioned that a Draft Bill for constituting a Chamundi Hill Development Authority, as an autonomous body, has already been drafted by concerned citizens of Mysuru and given to the Department concerned in Vidhana Soudha for taking it forward.
Maj. Gen. (Retd.) S.G. Vombatkere said that as PRASHAD is a Centre’s project, it is difficult to oppose it. “We need to extensively use social media influencers and celebrities to the cause of saving Chamundi Hill. Also, information posters, easily comprehensible bullet point pamphlets must be published and circulated. There is no use in protesting once the works begin and are under progress,” he said.
Chamundi Betta Ulisi Samithi Convenor Parashurame Gowda, members of Parisara Balaga and other organisations were present at the meeting.
NOTE: When the question of the ownership of the Devikere and (some say) even the temple and the adjacent properties are claimed to be the properties of the Royal family, one is left perplexed at the attempt to implement PRASHAD scheme, leave alone the demand of the ‘Heritage Panel’ to be consulted for executing the project atop the Hill. — ED
- Introduction of electric buses to Chamundi Hill and banning private vehicles. Only public transport must be allowed
- Harnessing of solar energy to all parts of the Hill
- Intensifying protests, Satyagraha and public campaigns
- Involving social media influencers to oppose the Chamundi Hill development
- Insisting on Heritage Committee approval before PRASHAD scheme is implemented
- Pursue legal fight against PRASHAD scheme
- Publicising the environment degradation aspect of PRASHAD scheme
- Insist on vacating all illegal shops around Thavarekatte area
- Fight against any development at Parks and green spaces
- Insist on the effective implementation of Karnataka Parks, Play-Field and Open Spaces (Preservation and Regulation) Act, 1985