By S.T. Ravikumar
Mysore/Mysuru: The ambitious project of converting the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam and Brindavan Gardens into a Disneyland-like tourist destination is more or less junked as the State Government has put its entire machinery and resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government is silent on the issue mainly as one, the project is mired in controversy, two, farmers in the Mysuru and Mandya belt are opposing the dream project despite assurances that it will give jobs to the local populace and three, due to Coronavirus scare, the authorities might become a laughing stock if money is allocated to the project at this juncture.
Opposed to commercial exploitation
Apart from the farmers of Mysuru and Mandya belt, people in the know about the historical significance of KRS Dam, its glorious history and the amount of sacrifices the erstwhile Mysore royal family made to construct the Dam were opposed to the idea of Disneyland as the name ‘Disney’ itself meant commercial exploitation of a place that has natural beauty and fertile land.
It was a dream project of Congress-JD(S) coalition Government floated by the then Tourism Minister S.R. Mahesh and backed by the then Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar. Both the Minsters were strongly supported by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy under whom a Rs. 2,000 crore project was conceptualised.
Lure of jobs and economy
As soon as the word about the project reached public domain, stiff opposition to it began and the Government went ahead with initial plans, reports and consultations. To pacify the agitating people of Mandya and Srirangapatna, the Government said that fertile land will not be taken away from farmers as the Government itself has hundreds of acres of land. Authorities also came up with the idea of erecting a giant statue of Goddess Cauvery on a tall pedestal. Still, the protests continued. Not cowed down by the protests, the Government claimed that the project would provide employment to over 40,000 youths of Mysuru and Mandya. It had kept 400 acres of land reserved for the project and had drawn up plans to construct a tower that is higher than the Dam structure, a toll plaza, grand streets, statue of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, sculptures of Royal Bird Gandabherunda and other paraphernalia that promised an end-to-end tourist destination.
Environmentalists opposed the project as Srirangapatna has been declared as an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and such destructive project was not allowed in the surroundings of KRS, Ranganathittu and the green pastures of Srirangapatna and surrounding areas.
As the Government was giving a final shape for the Disneyland project, the coalition satrap collapsed and BJP Government came to power. Though CM Yediyurappa had called a meeting on Aug. 4, 2019, it was not held due to some reason.
A quiet burial
After that not even a single discussion took place in the Government level regarding the project. This has made the authorities of Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited that manages the KRS Dam to think that the Disneyland project has got a quiet burial. Now that the pandemic is all-pervading, the Government has focussed on saving people’s lives rather than providing them entertainment in the form of the mega project.
Also, when the project was conceptualised, the then Opposition leader Yediyurappa had cornered the Government in the Assembly and said that the project was a waste of money and resources. He had alleged that the coalition Government had fallen victim to some powerful lobby. Now with Yediyurappa at the helm, he will not take the risk of launching the same project.