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:
- Plans to build dams across two rivers more for hydro-electric power generation than for irrigation. Barapole, for example.
- Four-lane Highway.
- The Railway Lines.
- Issues connected with Eco-Sensitive Zone.
- Inclusion of nine villages to the Tiger Protection Zone.
- The Gun Licence exemption issue.
- The issue of coffee plantations on encroached government land (Paisari). Kagodu Thimmappa, former Revenue Minister, had begun survey to acquire them.
- Right of lift-irrigation from running streams and rivers.
- To stop celebrating Tipu Jayanti (at least in Kodagu).
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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:
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,
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.