Will Kodagu, heaven on earth, cease to exist ?
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Will Kodagu, heaven on earth, cease to exist ?

Watch out! The writing is on the wall

The smallest district in Karnataka is Kodagu. It was described as Scotland of India by the British. It is 900 mts (2,953 feet) from the sea level. With this altitude, it is considered a Hill Station. It is nestled in the womb of Western Ghats with a thick rain forest. It receives an annual average rainfall of 2,500 mm (98 inch).

Temperature varies from 15OC to 28OC. It has many glades and streams. Its topography is of rolling hills, undulating plains, peaks and valleys. It is the oxygen and water-producing power house for the plains of Southern Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Like Kerala, Kodagu is “God’s own country.” Karnataka State and its people should count their blessings for getting this nature’s bounty.

But see what’s happening to this Kodagu in the name of development. Sab Ka Sath Sab Ka Vikas. Yes, but this political slogan and economic philosophy should not lead to Kodagu’s Vinash, destruction. The government may make Kodagu an exception to this kind of Vikas.

Sadly Vinash is what will happen if the present developmental plans are implemented. A district which is 60 miles (96.56 km) long and 30 miles (48.28 km) wide is going to have a 4-lane Highway criss-crossing it, Railway lines with trains chugging along in the South and North of Kodagu, many Holiday Resorts at the cost of agricultural lands and coffee plantation. Already, the High Tension Power-line is cutting across Kodagu after felling lakhs of trees and disturbing the wildlife habitat. If these projects materialise, the old-timers like me would have to ask,  “But, where is Kodagu?”

It is an irony that Karnataka government is supporting these projects. Otherwise, how could the Central government or Railways venture into Kodagu? There were protests by some, but it was ignored by the State government. (See Col. C.P. Muthanna’s report on page 1). It is said, that the peoples’ representatives are with the government, though in public they feign to be with the protesters.

In March this year, I listed problems related to Kodavas (Coorgs) as a native community and Kodagu as a unique geographic entity in the Western Ghats. Then I sent out letters to those who matter in Kodagu hoping they would take pre-emptive actions. The issues that related to Kodagu district, for example, are:

  1. Plans to build dams across two rivers more for hydro-electric power generation than for irrigation. Barapole, for example.
  2. Four-lane Highway.
  3. The Railway Lines.
  4. Issues connected with Eco-Sensitive Zone.
  5. Inclusion of nine villages to the Tiger Protection Zone.
  6. The Gun Licence exemption issue.
  7. The issue of coffee plantations on encroached government land (Paisari). Kagodu Thimmappa, former Revenue Minister, had begun survey to acquire them.
  8. Right of lift-irrigation from running streams and rivers.
  9. To stop celebrating Tipu Jayanti (at least in Kodagu).
  10. The Jamma land tenure is abolished by amending the Land Revenue Act. But its consequences and implementation are having impact on the land holders. This Gordian Knot has to be untangled. I hold the view that there is no distinction between Jamma paddy fields and Jamma Baane land where coffee is cultivated under the amendment.
  11. The issues of forming the “Greater Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (GTWLS) and UNESCO World Heritage Site which may lead to relocating people from so many villages. I had even named the villages in that letter.
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I had sent this letter to Kodagu politicians, social activists, members of Federation of Kodava Samajas and others. But I got response only from two persons. One was our former Law Minister M.C. Nanaiah who telephoned to say that though he agreed with me on manyissues, it is difficult to deal  with them because of lack of unity among the Kodagu people. Another response per letter came from Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa (Nanda Cariappa), son of Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa. The letter, though brief was eloquent in its prediction about the future destiny of Kodagu. I am inclined to agree with him. People of Kodagu are warned.

Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa

The letter is self-speaking and produced here below in full. The Air Marshal seems to take a peek into Kodagu’s future like the French Seer and Physician Nostradamus:

Date: 17.3.2018

Dear Mr. Ganapathy,

I thank you for your letter of March 8th, 2018 that I received a few days ago. It was good of you to include me in your mailing list.

Para 2 of your letter says it all. It is essential that we shed our purely/only Kodava outlook if this homeland of ours is to survive the onslaughts of the greedy and unscrupulous among our society. As you have stated we must include all other communities into our social fabric. If we do not, it will be at our own peril and this ‘heaven on earth,’ as we know Kodagu to be, will cease to exist.

The present trend, as I see it, points to the disintegration of what I.M. Muthanna called, ‘The Tiny Model District of Coorg’. My fear is that this land of ours will be carved into three entities: merging with Kerala, Malnad and Mysore respectively.

In the matter of ethnicity, the issue is complex given our inherent pride, sometimes bordering on arrogance, in our community. While we may demand a separate and acknowledged identity, I wonder whether a separate geographical zone is either appropriate or practical. You have your finger on the pulse of our community and can best advise how we protect our Kodava inheritance.

Unfortunately, I do not read Kannada, except at Railway and Bus Stations, so was unable to go through the various issues you have enumerated.

With warm regards,

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Your’s sincerely,

Nanda  Cariappa

The Karnataka government may take the sense of Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa’s letter seriously and SAVE Kodagu district.

Postscript: I had published an article about the issues discussed above on June 11, 2018 in the Kannada paper ‘Mysooru Mithra’. This had led to an interesting renewal of contact between two interesting persons. My friend K. Vijayakumar, an inveterate letter writer, had written to Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa, whom he knows, drawing his attention  to the letter I had published in ‘Mysooru Mithra’ and my remark that the Air Marshal had predicted the future destiny of Kodagu like the French Seer Nostradamus. Lo and behold, there came a response per e-mail thanking Vijayakumar. In the second e-mail, Air Marshal Cariappa has this to say about he being called a Nostradamus by me and the future of Kodagu:

“Nostradamus!!!! far from being one who gazes into a crystal ball. It is just that the writing is clearly on the wall for anyone to see and deduce the way things are headed. Alas, there is no apparent silver lining. And, of course, the lunatic fringe also exists who add fuel to the political fire to keep the pot boiling. Our ‘elected’ ????!!!! representatives are constantly sitting on the fence waiting to see which way the wind blows…”

Now, let me find out what manner of a man is this K.C. Cariappa. In an interview he gave to ‘The Week,’ October 28, 2007 he was asked: You were quite open about your parents’ divorce in the book. Are you as outspoken as              your father?

His outspoken answer was: No, I do not believe I am outspoken. However, if I feel strongly about anything, then I make my views known.

 e-mail: [email protected]

June 23, 2018

13 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Will Kodagu, heaven on earth, cease to exist ?”

  1. Veethahavya K S says:

    It is also a Shane that Kodagu suffers drinking water availability issue for several months during the dry season. It is downright laughable and outrageous considering the amount of rainfall it recieves.

  2. skywalker says:

    When the British referred to Kodagu, they were conscious of preserving the richness of nature in Kodagu, and they also preserved the richness of nature in Mysore. But then the population of India was less than quarter of what it is now. Modernisation does not mean that every one should have a car, and that it sometimes necessary to sacrifice the construction of highways and railways to preserve the gifts of nature. We are talking about India, a third world country choking with people and hence the necessity of plundering nature for short-time benefits. Greenfields are preserved in most developed countries, and technology does not always usurp the ways of people.

  3. Bachamanda M Vedhavathi says:

    Please ensure our native coorg as we want separate coorg state. Why it may be in our cultural, language and environment as very different. All over katnataka and tamilnadu people drinking our kaveri water. But coorgies people didnt get own culture. Please a government want to understand of our coorgies people are main participation of get independence of our country. Please ensure our nativecoorg as a very very much like for the nature. Please who are the minister of coorg you may provide our native coorg want a separate state protection. Please help me. Thank for all of you!

  4. skywalker says:

    A separate Kodagu state cannot provide the solution to the nature’s destruction, unless, the political parties in that newly formed state keep out of this expansionism madness. But I doubt it , as these local parties are usually the offsprings of the national parties and have very little local independence. This is the third world country with massive population, and adding one Australia every year. Resources are hence plundered.
    About the river. Danube in Europe, a mighty river which helped civilisation to flourish throughout its history as it flowed from Germany to Ukraine, some 1800 miles. Yet no country claims it as its own.

  5. thethreewisemen says:

    When the British said about Kodagu, they meant the uniqueness of this region, particularly it abundant gifts of the nature. After Indian independence in 1947, this region was separately administered and had a Chief Minister. Consequent to the death of Potti Sriramulu who agitated for a separate Hyderabad State from Madras, and the rise of Karnataka Ekikrana demands which the then CM of Kodagu Poonacha strongly supported-which for many was considered a mistake, knowing fully well Kodagu will merge with the then Old Mysore State along with Hyderabad-Karnataka , Bombay-Karnataka and parts of the then Madras state like Mangalore. Many in Old Mysore feared the rise of powerful politicians from those regions of Hyderabad-Karnataka , Bombay-Karnataka and Mangalore. who would look after their own regions diverting resources, and that was turned out to be true., as the above regions were mostly arid, required more resource-based attention. Who else will request and get a regional engineering college for Surathkal, an arid, toddy-tapping patch on Mangalore-Udipi route which was largely uninhabited? If PM Poonacha had not enthusiastically supported the Ekikarana, but demanded a separate statehood for Kodagu, its uniqueness would have preserved, and the place would not have been at the receiving end of machinations of the non-Kodagu politicians. Agitation has achieved Telengana ( what will Potti Sriramulu say now , if he was alive today?), and similar agitation may work to get a Kodagu state.

  6. vkris says:

    This is the worst that could happen to Kodagu, A place so serene and beautiful. I dont understand when the Govt and mankind as a whole understand the fact that developing so called infrastructure such as road and rail is not a measure of development. Its what the western world has done for decades and resent it badly. I can see this here in the USA where a lot of nature has been ripped apart for making ways for vast stretches of highways with a lot of impact on environment , all of which was planned and executed by major car manufacturers . I really do not want to see kodagu or even India go in that direction of us loosing our culture of preserving nature for generations to come. I hope the people of Kodagu and everywhere fight against it .

    • skywalker says:

      It is ” losing” BTW.
      The USA destroys vast amount of green belts because, there is no high speed railway system network in the USA, no significant public transport network like in Europe and the car culture drives this destruction. Hence,blaming the entire Western World is nonsense, as his destruction happens only in USA. Still, Canada maintains a healthy nature balance. It is too late for India, looking at Mysore City , where the destruction of nature has continued unabated for the 7 decades.

      • vkris says:

        @skywalker, Thank you so much for the grammar lessons buddy, your self-adulation is going out the roof. Yes, the US lacks public transport because it was developed post industrial and car era, the Europe has cities that were designed and planned before the concept of moving things were ever imagined, and Canada (really!), “maintains a healthy nature balance” because more than three-fourths of it is inhospitable to mankind, and the most populated parts closest to the border are well connected with freeways but they all lack public transports. So, yes, the western world is liable for this situation the whole world is facing today.

        Oh, it is “This” BTW.

        • What a World! says:

          Reading through your posts, it is clear English is not your strength. May be, you should try Spanish, which is fast becoming the defacto spoken language there, thanks to Latinos.
          When Alaska is fast becoming inhabitable, the vast landmass of Canada can have settlements. But Canadians do not want this.
          ” Moving things”?. Not sure what these are!! Referring to American history, the vast number of immigrants who arrived were Europeans until the mid-20th century, which meant that Americans until then, were of Anglo-Saxon descent. Whilst, railroads were expanding until the early 20th Century, the advent of the automobile, the availability of cheap petrol(gas) and the independence a car gave, all ensured that the above immigrants adopted the car culture . The more modest Bay Area Public Transport System experiment in California was not even copied elsewhere.
          .

          • vkris says:

            Yeah I guess you are right, with your rich knowledge of Anglo-Saxon history . Spanish would no doubt be the way to go, that would give me a perfect opportunity to reply to your posts in Spanish and maybe you might understand it . agghh! what a world!

          • skywalker says:

            @Vkris I bet your Spanish then will be as bad as your English!

          • Vkris says:

            @skywalker you guys can neither understand English nor Spanish, so it beats the purpose anyway! Adios muchachos!

        • What a World! says:

          @VKris. Reading through your posts, it is clear English is not your strength. May be, you should try Spanish, which is fast becoming the defacto spoken language there, thanks to Latinos.
          When Alaska is fast becoming inhabitable, the vast landmass of Canada can have settlements. But Canadians do not want this.
          ” Moving things”?. Not sure what these are!! Referring to American history, the vast number of immigrants who arrived were Europeans until the mid-20th century, which meant that Americans until then, were of Anglo-Saxon descent. Whilst, railroads were expanding until the early 20th Century, the advent of the automobile, the availability of cheap petrol(gas) and the independence a car gave, all ensured that the above immigrants adopted the car culture . The more modest Bay Area Public Transport System experiment in California was not even copied elsewhere.
          .

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