Supreme Court admits Air Marshal Cariappa’s petition
Taking a pro-active role, the Supreme Court of India has admitted a public interest litigation filed by Air Marshal (Retd) K.C. Cariappa, to restrain the Kodagu district administration and elected representatives from forming a road across the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu.
The Apex Court has directed the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to make an on the spot study of the situation and file a report.
Sources said a CEC team is expected to visit Kodagu sometime next month to make an assessment.
In a blatant violation of the law, the Kodagu district administration, backed by Kodagu MLAs K.G. Bopaiah and Appachu Ranjan, and supported by local villagers attempted to lay a road through the Pushpagiri reserve forest in the Western Ghats a couple of months ago, amid opposition from Karnataka forest officials.
The controversial road is a seven km stretch between Madikeri and Subramanya near Mangalore in Dakshina Kannada district. Over 400 villagers from Galibeedu near Madikeri, deployed earthmovers to make the road. Their contention was that the road would shorten the distance between Kodagu and Subramanya.
In a mockery of justice, the villagers were provided ‘police protection’ to form the road by the district administration, headed by Deputy Commissioner Baldev Krishna.
The top district officials went to the extent of publicly humiliating forest official Anil Rathan who protested against the road being formed through the reserve forest.
It is learnt that Conservator of Kodagu G.A. Sudarshan, who has since been shifted out apparently as a fall-out of the ‘road formation’, was behind the move to form the road, allegedly at the instance of the timber lobby and the MLAs.
The Kodagu Zilla Panchayat even passed a resolution for forming the road and even directed the police to lock up forest officials who tried to interfere with the road laying!
It looks like that the MLAs were only interested in the votes that would accrue to their BJP party by supporting the road project to benefit the local villagers.
EDITOR’S VIEW: The road laying project across the Pushpagiri sanctuary is a suicidal step which could further damage the ecology of Kodagu.
Just for the sake of votes, the BJP MLAs cannot prevail on the district administration to allow people to take law into their hands and take up road formation, in utter disregard for forest laws of the land, including Supreme Court ruling banning felling of trees in reserve forests.
Air Marshal Cariappa, son of the late Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, and other environmental groups like the Coorg Wildlife Society headed by Col C.P. Muthanna, should be complimented for protesting against the illegal activities of the timber mafia.