Is new Kodagu MP Pratap Simha doing more harm than good to Kodagu?
Is the newly elected Mysore-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha doing more harm than good to Kodagu?
Ever since his victory in the Lok Sabha elections, this journalist-turned politician has been on a celebration mode. Nothing wrong in that because he is the youngest to be elected to the Lok Sabha from Karnataka this time. However, what is worrying is some of the controversial statements this BJP MP has been making which could have serious repercussions on Kodagu.
Before going into the details, it is worthwhile making a comparison with his Congress predecessor H. Viswanath. Though Vishwanath was lazy and ineffective, he did not do any harm to the interests of Kodagu.
But Simha has been going around making reckless statements which could pose danger to the interests of Kodagu in particular and Karnataka in general. Foremost among them was his statement to stall the implementation of the Kasturirangan report on saving the Western Ghats.
Ever since the Prof Madhav Gadgil report was published on safeguarding the Western Ghats, which was subsequently diluted by the Kasturirangan report, politicians in Kodagu have been indulging in a disinformation campaign to malign the report. It is apparent that the political class in Kodagu has been playing to the tune of the Kerala timber lobby which fears that the restrictions posed by the Kasturirangan report could come in their way of looting the forest and mineral wealth of Kodagu.
Even when the UNESCO wanted to confer the World Heritage tag to Western Ghats, both the BJP and the Congress leaders opposed this tooth and nail. Perhaps for the first time, a Kodagu bandh call given by the BJP on this issue was supported by the Congress!
While Pratap Simha has already gone and met the Union environment minister and submitted memorandum against implementation of the Kasturirangan report, he has not tried to discuss the pros and cons of the report with the people going to be affected.
The major recommendation of Kasturirangan report involves notifying 37 per cent of the Western Ghats as Ecologically Sensitive Area. This includes 55 villages in Kodagu.
Pratap Simha has not bothered to meet the people in these 55 villages and ascertain their views on the report. The Kodagu MP who is active on the social media, has mostly pictures and reports of his victory celebrations, rather than his interaction with people at the grassroots.
The Karnataka government too has not bothered to bring out a white paper on the impact of the report and how it would affect the livelihood of people in these 55 villages. According to experts, agriculture operations are not going to be affected in the 55 villages, but mostly there would be restrictions on sand mining, quarrying and construction of major tourist resorts.
It is learnt that most of those indulging in sand mining, quarrying and smuggling the loot to Kerala, are the supporters of leading politicians in Kodagu. This is said to be the main reason why the politicians have unleashed fear psychosis among the small planters, without trying to explain how the Kasturirangan report would affect their lives.
Pratap Simha’s move to actively oppose the Kasturirangan report, without trying to explain to the people in the 55 villages on the actual dangers of the report based on verifiable facts, exposes the motives of the Kodagu MP.
While opposing the Kasturirangan report, Simha has not shown much interest in the construction of the 400 KV high tension power line passing through Kodagu which is going to affect many small coffee planters. Not only Simha, but all leading politicians in Kodagu have not raised their voice against the power line. Is it because the 50,000 trees which are going to be cut for the project, going to benefit Kerala timber lobby? Being a journalist, is Simha not aware of the ecological disaster this could have on Kodagu? Why he has not submitted a memorandum to the power ministry?
Again, Simha has been vociferous in calling for extending railway line to Kushalanagar from Mysore. He has already met the railway minister and submitted a memorandum, even though the project has been found to be unviable. It is no secret that once the railway line is connected to Kushalanagar, there will be demand for extending it to Tellicherry and other Kerala towns.
Simha should engage in introspection and take the local people into confidence before pursuing the projects which could lead to serious environmental problems in the Western Ghats. With a below normal rainfall predicted this year, there will be serious drinking water problem in cities like Bangalore and Mysore.
Do Simha and his ilk want a situation where Karnataka suffers while the Kerala mafia prospers?