Railway Line via Kodagu will decimate local populace, culture
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Railway Line via Kodagu will decimate local populace, culture

December 28, 2017

Madikeri: The proposed two Railway Lines (Thalassery-Mysuru via South Kodagu and Hunsur-Periyapatna-Kushalnagar-Madikeri-Mangaluru) cutting across the green and ecologically sensitive Kodagu district will completely destroy the environment and will result in a major influx of Keralites into Kodagu. Already a sizable number of Keralites live in Kodagu and they are controlling the economy of Kodagu and the Railway line will make the district an appendage of Kerala, said Col. Cheppudira P. Muthanna, President, Coorg Wildlife Society.

Addressing a press conference in Madikeri on Dec. 26, he said that the original inhabitants of Kodagu will be threatened by the migrants from Kerala and it would be a struggle to keep the traditional culture alive. Added to the menace of migration, environment will be destroyed and the local population will be decimated, he said.

“Already, Malayalam is the second most-spoken language in Kodagu and a large number of Keralites have registered as voters. They also control local politics and some of the Gram Panchayats have their meetings in Malayalam. People of Kodagu must understand that the main objective of the Railway Line is to flood Kodagu with Keralites so that after some years, elected representatives will be Keralites and finally there will be a demand to merge Kodagu with Kerala. This is the reason why the CPM Government in Kerala is insisting on Thalassery-Mysuru Rail line through Kodagu instead of Nilambur-Nanjangud Line,” he claimed.

Armed with information obtained through RTI, Col. Muthanna said that the Railway line will run from Thalassery and pass through Wayanad in Kerala and enter Kodagu at Kutta; pass through Balele-Nittoor-Kanoor and head towards Thithimathi; pass through Nagarahole National Park to reach Panchavalli and to Periyapatna.

Col. C.P. Muthanna

“The plan is to go underground in the forest areas so that the project is cleared by Forest Department and the Environment Ministry.

The total cost of the project will be Rs. 6,685 crore with Railways investing 49% and Karnataka and Kerala sharing 51%. This implies that Karnataka will spend about Rs. 1,800 crore,” he said.

The project has been designed by Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, famous as E. Sreedharan, the former Chairman of Delhi Metro Railway Corporation. He had also suggested another route from Nilambur in Kerala to Nanjangud but the CPM Government in Kerala has insisted on the Railway line through Kodagu.

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“K.C. Venugopal, MP from Kerala, who is the Karnataka Congress in-Charge, discussed the Railway line with Karnataka CM Siddharamaiah and subsequently, the Chief Secretary of Kerala and other officials from Kerala met the Chief Secretary of Karnataka and the project got its momentum,” he said and added, “We strongly condemn the action of Venugopal for misusing his office to push a destructive project through Kodagu for Kerala’s benefit.”

“The project will destroy lakhs of trees in Kodagu, destroy houses and coffee estates and will further increase the human-elephant conflict. Ultimately, River Cauvery will go dry. Since the past two years, more than 50,000 trees have been cut in Kodagu to make way for the 400 KV Mysuru-Kozhikode high-tension power lines and as a result, many wells in Kodagu went dry even during monsoon season,” he narrated.

“The Railway Line to Kodagu is similar to the Railway Line from China to Tibet where the main objective is to flood Tibet with Han Chinese and totally marginalise the people of Tibet,” he said.

The second Railway project is the Mysuru-Hunsur-Periyapatna-Kushalnagar-Madikeri-Mangaluru line. “People, who are thinking that this line is only up to Kushalnagar, must realise that MP Pratap Simha’s questions in Parliament have confirmed that this line is up to Makkandur  near Madikeri and from there it will be up to Mangaluru. This will again destroy the ecology and deal a deadly blow to River Cauvery,” he opined.

Cheppudira Ponnappa, former President of Kodava Samaja-Ponnampet, Iynanda Mandanna, President, Ponnampet Ex-Servicemen’s Association, Kaibulira Harish, President, Kodagu Growers Federation, Nikkie Ponnappa of Coorg Wellness Foundation, C. Sherry Subbaiah of Kodagu Growers Federation, Smaran Subash, Committee Member, Amma Kodava Samaja,  Pawan Aiyappa of Clean Coorg Initiative and Jammada Mohan of Kodagu Growers Federation were present.

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Steps taken so far

Environmental groups have met Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani in New Delhi and he has stated that the Railway line can be cancelled if Karnataka objects.

They have written to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal conveying the message that the Railway line would be totally against the wishes of the people and a violation of social justice.

MLC Veena Achaiah and former MLC Arun Machaiah have promised to take up the matter with the CM.

Yamuna Chengappa, President of Kodagu BJP Women’s  wing, has approached the Gram Panchayats of Kutta, Balele, Nittoor, Kanoor, Nalkeri and Ponnappasanthe to oppose the survey for the Railway line. They have all passed resolutions to oppose the project.

Sherry Subbaiah, Secretary of Kodagu Growers’ Federation has taken up the matter with the Thithimathi and Devarapura Gram Panchayats and they have also passed similar resolutions.

Iynanda Jappu, senior member of BJP, has agreed to take a delegation to MP Pratap Simha to use his good offices to impress upon the Railway Minister to drop the project.

FUTURE PLANS

Meeting Karnataka Minister K.J. George and former Minister T. John (both Congress leaders have their roots in Kodagu) urging them to write to Kerala CM to cancel the destructive project.

Convincing Taluk Panchayat (Virajpet) and Zilla Panchayat to pass resolutions against the project.

Organising a series of protests if the Govt. does not respond.

Multi-lane National Highways through Kodagu

Mysuru-Kodlipet-Suntikoppa-Madikeri-Gonikoppal-Kutta-Manandawadi

One branch of this Highway will connect Madikeri to Mangaluru Highway

Paanathur-Bhagamandala-Madikeri

Mattanur-Gonikoppal-Thithimathi- Hunsur-Mysuru

These Highways have been planned as four-lane Highways that will cause huge destruction to green cover in Kodagu. National Highways in Kerala have only two lanes with a minimal width of less than 7 meters. But when the Highways connect to areas outside Kerala they want four-lane Highways of more than 30 meters width. All National Highways through Kodagu must be restricted to two-lane with maximum width of 7 meters tarred surface and one meter without tarring on both sides.

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