Plea to Save Chamundi Hill
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Plea to Save Chamundi Hill

April 12, 2022

Eversince Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced a Ropeway to Chamundi Hill in his Budget and Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha gave a statement about installing Railings to the 1008 steps (that take tourists, trekkers and devout pilgrims to the hilltop) which would be provided with funds from the Central Government under its PRASHAD scheme, the local NGOs and the environmentalists have been opposing these proposals vehemently. Among them, Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkere  (retd.) of MGP also is one. He has his reasons for opposing the project, in the wake of the Jharkhand  Ropeway accident on Sunday last, as detailed below. — Ed

By Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkere 

Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkere 
Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkere 

In view of the special circumstances of Chamundi Hill with Chamunde-shwari temple at its peak, Government of Karnataka should en-courage visitors to the hilltop for religious occasions and devotional reasons, but keep commercial tourism outside this area, as a matter of policy. Such a policy is the only practical method of protecting and preserving Chamundi Hill’s religious-forest-environment-heritage ambience, which, once lost, will be lost forever. It will not affect commercial tourism elsewhere in Mysuru city.

Importance of environment

It is apt to quote five sentences extracted from a Supreme Court judgement concerning the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 (29.3.2022; Hon’ble Justices Khanwilkar, Oka and Ravikumar). These unequivocally underline and emphasise the importance and primacy of environment:

“Environment is more important than your civil rights”;   “Your civil rights are subo-rdinate to the environment”; “The environment must prevail over all other rights”;  “Forest has to be preserved”;  “Once a forest, it is always a forest, until it is de-notified.”

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

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According to the current EIA Notification, projects estimated to cost less than Rs.100 crore do not require EIA clearance from Government. Thus, EIA is not mandatory for most projects concerning Chamundi Hill.

However, considering the special status and character of Chamundi Hill as a combination of religious-forest-environment heritage within the Heritage City of Mysuru, it behoves Government of Karnataka to get an independent, transparent EIA carried out for any and every project proposed in any part of the Chamundi Hill.

Ropeway

A Ropeway project has been proposed twice earlier and dropped both times due to argued objections by people of Mysuru, regarding the irreversible negative effect on the environment and heritage of Chamundi Hill. Along with these objections, it was argued that the project would not be economically viable, since economic viability of the Ropeway would be based upon a study concerning: Expected season-wise demand on Ropeway; Number of persons per trip; Round-trip time; Trip (ticket) cost, including affordability, passenger insurance, GST, etc.; Electric power requirement and cost; Capital cost (investment) and amortization; etc.

It is regrettable that Government is yet again proposing a Ropeway, even though   environmental and heritage concerns regarding Chamundi Hill are heightened, the on-going economic situation for people is more difficult than earlier, and the economic viability of the Ropeway remains unaddressed.

Therefore, Government needs to formally and finally drop the Ropeway project proposal for environmental, heritage and economic reasons.

Legal protection

Government might con-sider enacting a separate law which may be titled “The Karnataka (Mysuru Chamundi Hill Precincts) Protection, Preservation & Conservation Act”, with the purpose to protect, preserve and conserve the Chamundi Hill precincts.

READ ALSO  View Points atop Chamundi Hill to boost tourism

A Draft Bill for the purpose has been prepared. It needs to be filled out and refined at the earliest, and tabled in Karnataka Legislative Assembly.

Jharkhand Ropeway

Note: Three tourists were  killed and nearly 50 were trapped in Jharkhand Ropeway accident that was reported on Monday after some cable cars collided with one another at Trikut Hills close to Baba Baidyanath Temple in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district on Sunday.

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Plea to Save Chamundi Hill”

  1. Mann Ki Baat! says:

    This Major General retired of course, has been among the vocal howling mob of armchair eco warriors along with Barmy Shenoy, who arrived with that massive influx of non-Mayoreans in 1980s to settle in Mysore, building homesteads in the cleared forests surrounding the then smaller Royal city, this precipitating the destruction of the eco system that Mysore enjoyed for decades.
    Now, as a member of that outfit-the Grahachara Parishad, he is howling again of protecting the Chamundi Hill. I bet he drives a car and visits the Hilltop through the Hill road! I suggest, he should walk up through the steps, with his buddies Shenoy, of course Ballal and any others, who join his eco howls!
    Even if the Rope Way project is cancelled, he should know, if he had any brain cells left that the creation of the 10-lane Mysore-Bangalore highway, Mr Paratap Simha’s wonderful project of linking Hassan to Kodagu and then to Kerala through another set of highway plus other so called transport -enhancing project of expanding the Mysore airport, particularly focusing on locating new tech businesses along that corridor, will bring another large influx of people from neighbouring Kerala, besides those relocating from the congested Bangalore and even Chennai would hasten the destruction of the Hill anyway. If this Major General retired care to investigate the statistics of the increased numbers of cars and vehicles of sorts using the Hill Road, he would discover that this traffic increase at an alarming rate is mostly contributed by the new residents of this city, who are arriving to settle at an alarming rate too!
    He need also talk to Pramoda Devi Wadiyar, who on the one hand wants to keep the Hill exclusively for devotees, but , on the other, also wants to reconstruct the crumbled Rajendra Vilas palace in the Hill as a Hotel for visitors claiming that the surrounding must be eco-friendly. What a breathless hypocrisy!!
    I would say, close the Hill Road with the exception for the certified disabled and infirm, ferried up through a very limited number of small buses.
    The rest including this Maj Gen Retd and all fat ministers and VIPs should be forced to use the steps. This exercise do them good!
    PS: His Excellency Narendra Modi has struck a deal with Putin ( on the dead bodies of Ukrainians) to get supplies of discounted oil to nourish the car culture of his citizens! Jai Hind!!

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