Mysore-Kerala rail link via Kodagu spells disaster
Rail Roko, Rasta Banao!
(By: C.P. Belliappa)
Normally, when the government announces railway tracks to be laid to a new destination, it is welcomed. However, the proposed rail-link through Kodagu to Kerala will spell disaster to the ecology of Kodagu which is considered to be one of the pristine areas on the Western Ghats.
There are many in Kodagu and elsewhere who argue that this railway connectivity should be welcomed. Environmentalists have repeatedly pointed out the damage railways can cause to a region such as Kodagu. It is estimated that an area of 5000 acres will be lost to the tracks, stations and other infrastructure that will have to be put up to bring about this connectivity from Mysore-Hunsur-Thithimathi-Gonikoppal-Bittanagala to Kerala.
The huge cost that will be involved will not justify the minimal benefit for Kodagu. The damage to the fragile eco-system, the flora and fauna will be immeasurable. Likewise, the hit the environment of Kodagu will take will be unrecoverable. For our neighbouring State this railway line will be a boon, and they are actively pursuing this project with all the political clout they wield.
We in Kodagu need to protect our environment which should not be sacrificed solely for the benefit of another State. Railways through Kodagu will forever alter the demography, topography and the geography of this region.
The only viable rail-link to Kodagu that has some merit is the one proposed from Mysore to Kushalnagar. I will not be the first one to say: improve our roads on priority. Roads in Kodagu need to be properly designed to withstand the weather conditions, the increased load, and volume of traffic.
Well-laid broad roads, bridges, culverts and proper drainage systems are the projects to be urgently taken-up in Kodagu. People of Kodagu, with the support of our elected representatives, need to debate this issue. Survey for this project is going to start in the near future. Various Growers Associations, Samajas and NGOs should deliberate on the wisdom of having railways cut through the heart of Kodagu. In my opinion: ‘Rail Roko, Rasta Banao!’