Restrict Kushalnagar-Sampaje to a two-lane Highway
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Restrict Kushalnagar-Sampaje to a two-lane Highway

July 6, 2019

Coorg Wildlife Society President writes to MP Pratap Simha not to widen NH-275 into four-lane in Kodagu

Mysuru: The project to widen a section of NH-275 connecting Bengaluru, the commercial capital of Karnataka and Mysuru, the cultural capital, linking it with Mangaluru, Kodagu and parts of Kerala, has received criticism as critics feel that the project will see widespread destruction of pristine jungles.

The existing four-lane road will be extended to six-lane in some places and in Kodagu, the existing two-lane road (between Mysuru-Kushalnagar-Madikeri and Madikeri-Mangaluru) will be upgraded into a four-lane Highway. 

President of Coorg Wildlife Society K.C. Biddappa has written to Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha and has stated that the upgradation of the existing two-lane road into a four-lane road was environmentally destructive that will result in the destruction of thousands of trees on the Kushalnagar-Madikeri stretch and will have a direct bearing on the catchment areas of River Cauvery. 

The letter asks the MP to restrict NH-275 from Kushalnagar-Madikeri-Sampaje to only a two-lane Highway as per the norms and practices existing in the hilly districts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Uttarakhand. 

2018 catastrophe

 “Kodagu has witnessed a catastrophe caused by torrential rains that resulted in devastating landslides in Somwarpet and Madikeri Taluks during August 2018. The damage was especially very severe in the hilly terrains where hundreds of acres of plantation simply ceased to exist and thousands of trees were uprooted. We also have witnessed severe landslides where hills abutting the NH-275 simply slid down hundreds of meters into the valley. In such a situation how wise is it to widen the existing two-lane road into a four-lane one,” the letter questioned. 

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The Coorg Wildlife Society is deeply concerned to learn that the proposed four-lane Highway will have a width of 70mts in the plains section and 45mts in hill section. This would entail widening of the present road by 6 to 10 times the present width. Such a project would cause a huge loss of green cover in Kodagu district which is the principal catchment of River Cauvery, the letter stated. 

Expansion illogical and against norms

As per norms, widening of a particular road is necessitated only when the traffic density of that particular road exceeds 10,000 vehicles per day. But in the case of National Highway-275 from Kushalnagar to Sampaje, the vehicle density is high only during weekends and holidays and this is due to the heavy influx of tourists. 

Widening of NH-275 will make the presently green terrain barren and this will lead to more landslides and threaten the very existence of River Cauvery as thousands of trees will be felled in the river catchment area. The current traffic density of 2,500 to 3,000 vehicles per day does not warrant four-lane conversion of the existing two-lane Highway, he stated.

Compare with NH-49 and 67

Justifying his arguments, Biddappa compares NH-275 with Munnar on NH-49 wherein nearly 30 to 40 kms of the Highway is only a narrow single lane road. Also, NH-67 between Gudalur and Ooty is a single lane. This is because the National Highways authorities have sensibly planned the Ghat section and the width of the Highway so that there is a seamless busy traffic plying on these roads without any bottlenecks, he explained.

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The two-lane Highway (NH- 275) is far superior to NH-67 and NH-49 in terms of width. Therefore, there is absolutely no justification for four-lane conversion of the NH-275 and that too in an ecologically fragile area. This road can be widened by a metre on either side to ensure free flow of traffic, he stated.

“All developments should be in harmony with the fragile ecosystem of Kodagu. We request you to immediately advise the National Highways authorities to drop the plan of making the NH-275 from Kushalnagar to Sampaje via Madikeri into four-lane Highway,” the letter stated.

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