Bengaluru: Taking the issue of destructive Railway line and Highway projects to the seat of power in Bengaluru, President of Coorg Wildlife Society and Coordinator, Save Kodagu and Cauvery Campaign Colonel (retired) C.P. Muthanna addressed a press conference at the Press Club here yesterday. He made a fervent plea to the State Government not to bow to the pressure by Kerala Government in sanctioning land for the Railway line.
Appealing Bengalureans to raise voice against the Railway and Highway projects, he said that River Cauvery that provides drinking water to most of the city areas will go dry once the Railway projects (Thalassery-Hunsur-Mysuru via South Kodagu and Hunsur-Periyapatna-Kushalnagar-Madikeri-Mangaluru) are implemented.
“For whom is the Railway line? It is only for tourists. The line will destroy lakhs of trees, increase man-elephant conflict and end up affecting the flow of water in the Cauvery,” he said.
“You will not get an ounce of water to drink and the entire Cauvery Basin will go dry. Over 60,000 trees have been cut to lay a high-tension power line from Mysuru to Kozhikode in Kerala and we are seeing its effects now as since the past two years there is lack of rainfall in the catchment areas. If the destruction continues, the day is not far when River Cauvery goes dry,” he said.
“Kodagu is the principal catchment of River Cauvery and contributes over 70% of the total inflow into the KRS Dam. The Cauvery River is the life line for South India and sustains over eight crore people and 600 major industries across the region. Railway lines will be nothing but death knell for Cauvery and Kodagu,” he said.
“These needless projects are being done to cater to the tourism industry. However, when Kodagu has a population of barely 5 lakh, getting between 14 to 20 lakh tourists annually is not sustainable. There should be a cap on tourists,” said Muthanna, adding that the organisation was preparing to file public interest litigation petitions in the High Court to stop the projects.
“We appeal to all the people who are sustained by River Cauvery to support our cause and join our struggle. We call upon all politicians to make their stand clear on the destructive projects of Railways and multi-lane National Highways through Kodagu. A major protest rally will be organised by us in Mysuru on Feb. 18. We urge maximum number of citizens to join us in the protest and help us in protecting River Cauvery,” he added.
The protest would see the participation of Cauvery Nadi Swatchata Andolana which has demanded a stop to dumping of solid waste along the river as well as sewage inflow, said Chandra Mohan, President of the organisation.
S. Vishwanath, water conservationist, believed that the degradation of the river would have a ripple effect in Bengaluru, where the Cauvery is the only major source of drinking water. “It is only when the taps run dry that Bengaluru will be bothered. By then, it will be too late,” he added.
Kodagu ZP passes resolution
Meanwhile, the Kodagu Zilla Panchayat has passed a resolution opposing the Thalassery-Mysuru Railway line via South Kodagu.
At a meeting held yesterday under the chairmanship of President B.A. Harish, the members unanimously resolved to oppose the Railway line.
Cutting across party lines, ZP members said that the Railway line will decimate Kodagu that has already been ravaged by indiscriminate and unwanted development like the Mysuru-Kozhikode high-tension power line that has passed through South Kodagu to supply power to Kerala and for which over 60,000 trees were felled.
The meeting also passed a resolution to request the State Government to grant taluk status to Kushalnagar and Ponnampet.