Widening of NH-275 via Kodagu draws flak
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Widening of NH-275 via Kodagu draws flak

October 24, 2018

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 especially in the places like Kodagu that 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. A public hearing on the proposed project was held recently in Madikeri where environment activists and representatives of residents of Kodagu opposed the project as it will destroy thousands of trees.

After the meeting and learning about the project details, President of Coorg Wildlife Society Col. (Retd.) C.P. Muthanna has written to Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources and has stated that the upgradation of the existing two-lane road into a four-lane road was environmentally destructive.

“We are 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,” he stated in the letter.

“The project will be of particular relevance to you as you also hold the portfolio of Water Resources. It may please be borne in mind that much of the road widening will be through coffee plantations that have an average of 350 mature trees per hectare. There are also a large number of wild elephants in the forest area along the road and disturbance due to the tree felling and road construction activity will result in severe ecological damage,” he stated.

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Col. Muthanna brought to the attention of the Minister regarding floods and landslides in Kodagu during the month of August that resulted in loss of life and damage to property.

“Hundreds of families have been rendered homeless and the relief package announced by the Government is barely Rs.100 crore. In this context, it would he totally unethical to spend over Rs.1,500 crore for a destructive highway project in the same region,” he wrote.

He argued that the present density of traffic can easily be accommodated by adding one meter of paved shoulder on either side of the existing two-lane highway instead of upgrading it into a four-lane one.

“As per regulations of National Highways Authority of India, highways are constructed when the traffic density exceeds 10,000 vehicles per day. However, the existing vehicle density is nowhere near this figure in the Kushalnagar-Madikeri section. This is a scam project driven by vested interests. We request you to institute an enquiry on how this project was conceived and book the officials responsible for the illogical project,” Col. Muthanna demanded.

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