PM urged to scrap Mysore-Kushalanagar railway line project
OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI TO SCRAP THE MYSORE-KUSHALANAGAR RAILWAY LINE PROJECT, THE RAILWAY MINISTER’S ‘GIFT’ TO WIFE DATTY
While it is laudable that the Prime Minister wants the railways to help accelerate the country’s growth, it is regrettable that the railway minister Sadananda Gowda is trying to revive a railway project in his wife’s hometown in Coorg which has already been found to be ‘economically unviable’ by the railways.
In the budget, Gowda announced the survey for Mysore-Kushalanagar-Madikeri line. Gowda’s wife Datty hails from a village near Kushalanagar town in Coorg district.
In fact, the survey for this line was completed in 2011, but the project was shelved by the railways because it was found to be not viable. In the circumstances, the Prime Minister should scrap the project as public funds should not be misused for pandering to the private fancies of the minister.
It is a matter of concern that the project is being planned in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats without making a study of the environmental impact assessment and the carrying capacity for taking up such a massive project.
The project would lead to an environmental disaster, especially the planned railway line between Kushalanagar and Madikeri, the district headquarters of Coorg.
In the recent years, Coorg has emerged as a major tourist destination. Resorts and ‘homestays’ have mushroomed all over Coorg. This has triggered landslides, drinking water scarcity, waste management problems and importantly the destruction of forests.
The commercialisation and urbanisation has led to large-scale migration into Coorg. The ‘outsiders’ have un-authorisedly occupied river banks and other public spaces like sacred forests, considered sacred by the indigenous people.
Coorg which borders Kerala has been witnessing an exodus of ‘outsiders’, leading to an Assam-like situation where outsiders outnumber the ‘locals’. This has been encouraged by the politicians to garner votes.
In the circumstances, the local people feel that the decision to put Coorg on the railway map is a conspiracy by the ‘Kerala lobby’, keen on extending the railway link to Kerala towns. Moreover, it is also being alleged that the railway link will help the Kerala timber lobby as the project would involve large-scale cutting down of trees.
By stopping the railway project, the Prime Minister will help in preserving the local identity of Coorg and also conserving the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world.