Environmentalists irked over chopping of trees along Madikeri-Bhagamandala-Talacauvery Road
Madikeri: Preparations are in full swing for the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to the hilly district on Feb. 6 where he will inaugurate ‘Sunny Side’, a museum dedicated to celebrated General, Chief of Armed Forces and War Hero General Kodandera S. Thimayya. The museum, earlier the ancestral house of Gen. Thimayya, will be dedicated to the nation at around 3.15 pm that day.
A host of dignitaries including Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat, who was instrumental in getting ancient war relics like the ‘Himmat’ T-50 battle tank and MiG-20 plane to the museum, will be attending the ceremony. Senior officers of Indian Defence would also be attending.
Workers, Armymen and Paramilitary forces have already taken over helipads around Madikeri and the museum precincts and are giving final touches to the VVIP visit. Before arriving at Madikeri from Bengaluru, the President couple will visit Talacauvery and Bhagamandala to perform special pujas.
Public entry has been banned at Bhagamandala and Talacauvery from Feb. 5 till the President leaves to Madikeri and shops and business outlets en-route President’s cavalcade have been asked to shut during the VVIP visiting hours.
Military men are now painting the battle tank and the MiG aircraft to give them a fresh battle-ready look. CCTV cameras have been fixed along the route leading to the Museum (G.T. Road) and the Armed Forces teams are busy in rehearsals to welcome and honour the President.
Helipads have been constructed at Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa College Grounds, General Thimayya District Stadium, Golf Grounds and also at Chettimani near Bhagamandala for all the VVIP helicopters to land.
Over 250 volunteers from various organisations such as Dharmasthala Stree Shakti Sangha, Chamber of Commerce, Green City Forum, students from St. Michael School and Junior College are involved in the cleanliness drive. Old electricity poles are being replaced with new ones and the erratic lines are being repaired, along with replacing old transformers with new ones, apart from other minor works.
The hilly town of Madikeri is witnessing a quick and many potholed roads across the city are being filled and asphalted. Notably, many unscientific speed-breakers are being removed for the President’s convoy to move smoothly. However, only the roads that will be taken by the VVIP are getting a new look while the adjacent and surrounding roads are filled with crater-like potholes.
Meanwhile, environmental groups in Kodagu have opposed the move of the Forest Department to cut trees along the Madikeri-Bhagamandala-Talacauvery Road. “Roadside trees planted by students two years ago in Madikeri have been chopped off near Sudarshan Circle and also on the Talacauvery road. Forest Department officials and teams, armed with automatic saws axes and other equipment is causing damage to roadside trees and even healthy trees are being cut,” said green activists.
The instruction for workers was to remove tree branches hanging close to the road as a safety measure. But the workers in their enthusiasm removed a good portion of the greenery. This mindless act in the name of security has caused widespread anger in social media and many have tweeted the Office of President along with photographs of chopped trees.