Echo of Kerala completing aerial survey of Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line
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Echo of Kerala completing aerial survey of Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line

January 31, 2024

Environment activists start ‘Save Bandipur’ campaign

Mysore/Mysuru: ‘Save Bandipur’ posts are trending on social media following the completion of the aerial survey to prepare the final report for the Nilambur-Nanjangud railway project connecting Nilambur in Kerala and Nanjangud in Karnataka with a rail link through Wayanad. The Government of Kerala has initiated the survey and reports said that the survey was completed on Sunday (Jan. 28). 

The project had been hanging fire for more than a decade. According to reports, the Southern Railway took over the project independently, sanctioning Rs. 5.9 crore for the Final Location Survey (FLS) in May 2023. While the land survey covering 100 kms from Nilambur was completed by Saturday evening, the survey up to Nanjangud was completed on Sunday. 

Threat to flora and fauna

Soon after reports emerged about the completion of the aerial survey, environment activists took objection to the project that passes through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Environment activists posted that neither the construction of the railway line nor the opening up of night traffic at Bandipur and Nagarahole will be advantageous for the people of Karnataka. Instead, these initiatives may detrimentally impact the fragile ecosystem and pose a threat to the flora and fauna in these ecologically sensitive zones, they said.

Kerala is keen on implementing the project as it will take just seven hours to cover the distance between Kochi and Bengaluru if the Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line becomes a reality instead of the present travel time of 11 hours. 

Environment groups have argued against the Nilambur-Nanjangud railway line as it revolves around the potential disruption of wildlife habitats, increased risk of road accidents involving wildlife, and the overall degradation of the delicate ecosystems of Bandipur.

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 Kerala is at the same time planning to take the railway line through an 11-km tunnel via Bandipur and this too is opposed by activists. They underline the importance of balancing development and environmental conservation and finding sustainable solutions that consider both economic and ecological factors is crucial for the well-being of the region and its inhabitants.

No info yet: SWR Mysuru DRM 

Speaking to Star of Mysore about the planned line from Nilambur to Nanjangud, Mysuru Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of South Western Railway (SWR) Shilpi Agarwal said that she has no information about the line and the survey conducted by Kerala.

“Already there is a Nanjangud-Chamarajanagar line and we have no information about where Kerala is planning to connect the line in Mysuru. The aerial survey would have been done by some private agency. Once the plan is finalised and approved by the Railway Board, it will come to us (SWR) for approval and as of now, we have no visibility,” she added. 

It may be mentioned here that on Jan. 22, the policy address made by Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan mentions the contentious Thalassery-Mysuru new broad gauge rail project, although Karnataka has repeatedly turned down the proposal from Kerala raising environmental concerns. The Governor said that the Thalassery-Mysuru new broad gauge rail line via Kalpetta and Nilambur-Nanjangud rail project are other projects that the State government intends to implement. In the past, Kerala had asked E. Sreedharan, former Managing Director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to conduct a viability study on Thalassery-Mysuru rail link, but a negative report was submitted, deeming the project ‘unviable.’ 

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