Mysuru/ Bengaluru: The High Court of Karnataka has asked the State Government to respond to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against the proposed Mysuru-Kushalnagar Railway Line. The State has to respond by July 25 and the Court has adjourned the hearing to that date.
The petition (WP 17990/2018) was filed on 24-4-2018 by President of Coorg Wildlife Society Col. (Retd) C.P. Muthanna who is also the Coordinator, Save Kodagu and Cauvery Campaign. The PIL came up for hearing yesterday before a Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari that directed the government to file its response by July 25.
The respondents in the petition are Secretary, Ministry of Forests, Environment and Ecology, Ministry of Railways, Chief Secretaries of Karnataka and Kerala and Principal Chief Conservators of Forests, Karnataka and Kerala.
In his petition, Muthanna stated that the construction of two lines — one linking Thalassery in Kerala with Mysuru via Kodagu district and another linking Mysuru, Kushalnagar and Madikeri — will have disastrous consequences. The Coorg Wildlife Society prayed the Court not to permit any such projects, either in the name of tourism or for commercial purposes.
Alleging that a ‘lobby controlled by business and commercial tycoons of Kerala’ through the Kerala State government is pressurising the Centre to lay the Railway line connecting Mysuru to Thalassery, Muthanna has urged the Court to issue directives to authorities not to carry out any activity or venture into laying of Railway projects in Kodagu.
He has alleged that the projects did not take into consideration the severe ecological damage it could cause in Kodagu.
According to the petitioner, with 54,000 fully grown trees already chopped for a 400 KV Mysuru-Kozhikode electricity line, the two Railway lines and four proposed National Highways passing through different parts of Kodagu would entail chopping of 2-3 lakh fully grown trees.
“The main purpose of this Railway line is to exploit tourism and commercial activities in Karnataka and Kerala and not for livelihood of the people,” the petitioner has contended and has apprehended that these projects would lead to diversion of river course and interfere with the elephant corridor leading to more man-animal conflicts in the region.
The petitioner has also requested the Court to direct the Central government not to plan any kind of project in the name of boosting tourism at the cost of biodiversity and stay the survey and other related activities of these two Railway projects.
One more PIL against NHAI
Speaking to Star of Mysore this morning, Col. Muthanna said that he has filed one more PIL in the High Court questioning the upgradation of certain roads in Kodagu to National Highways. This PIL is likely to come up for hearing today (July 12).
“We all agree that there is no need for Railway lines to Kodagu either via South Kodagu or to Kushalnagar as we are not transporting heavy goods and iron ore and moreover, most of the buses run half empty and also the areas are well connected with good roads. A contractor lobby is pushing for the project and they have joined hands with lobbyists from Kerala to implement these destructive projects,” he said.
What the Coorg Wildlife Society learnt through RTIs in Parliament is that the proposed project is till Makkandur in Madikeri from Mysuru. “If the Railway line is allowed till Kushalnagar, who will give the written guarantee that the line will not be drawn till Madikeri and later to Mangaluru bowing to political pressure,” asked Col. Muthanna.
Even if the Railway line comes to Kushalnagar, it will destroy thousands of trees and also increase the demographic pressure on the tiny district of Kodagu that is already facing destruction due to mindless projects, he added.
Regarding National Highways, Col. Muthanna said that the existing State Highways that run via Kodagu is 9-metre wide and are in good condition. “There is no need to upgrade these State Highways into National Highways that will cause destruction of greenery,” he said.