Echo Of Pressure From Green Groups: Mysuru-Madikeri Railway Line To Stop At Kushalnagar
Jun 15, 2018
Mysuru: It is official. Following pressure from environment groups and elected representatives, the Railway Department has decided to restrict the Mysuru-Madikeri-Mangaluru line till Kushalnagar only.
Sources in the Railways told Star of Mysore that as thousands of trees have to be cut in the green belt of Madikeri, the project will be restricted to Kushalnagar. Two surveys have been completed and the proposal to drop the furtherance of the line till Madikeri has been sent to the Railway Board.
Confirming this to SOM, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha said that Mysuru and Kushalnagar are already developed and there is a scope for a Railway line. “I had opposed the extension of the line till Madikeri as it would destroy the forests in the area that is known for its eco-sensitivity and biodiversity. For 30 kilometres of the Railway line, we cannot sacrifice the environmental interests,” he said.
Simha added that he had written a couple of letters to the Centre and had requested it to restrict the project to Kushalnagar. He said that once a project is approved, it enters the “Pink Book” of Railways and the project will be implemented. “The Mysuru-Kushalnagar line will get approved in the next Union Budget,” he said.
The Mysuru-Madikeri Railway line was listed in the Railway Budget 2016-17 under “new line” category at an estimated cost of Rs. 667 crore and the techno-economic survey was completed. But the project — originally mooted over 100 years ago — did not gain further traction. The funding was to be made under the extra budgetary allocation, but it is stuck in the maze of bureaucracy.
Sources said that the Railways had conducted a detailed survey for the Mysuru-Kushalnagar line but the survey for the Kushalnagar-Madikeri section could not be conducted as the Forest Department did not give permission for the same.
Even Union Statistics and Planning Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda had written to the State seeking permission for the project inside the forest.
However, the project did not move further following severe opposition from the Green groups and Pratap Simha.
Sources in South Western Railway (SWR) said that for the Mysuru-Kushalnagar line, there will be no environmental damage. They said that the SWR had conducted the survey and had sent the proposal to the Railway Board last month. The project cost will be shared by the Centre and the State Government and the modalities will be worked out once work is sanctioned and is included in the Budget, sources added.
MP on Thalassery-Mysuru line
Regarding the Thalassery-Mysuru line that will pass through the virgin forests of South Kodagu and the reports of secret surveys conducted by the Konkan Railway Corporation in coffee estates of South Kodagu, MP Pratap Simha said that he had already communicated to the Centre and the State Governments not to accord environmental clearance to the project.
“A lobby from Kerala is working for the project that is against the people of Kodagu. We will not allow the project at any cost. The Congress-JD(S) Government in Karnataka has to take the initiative of stalling the project as the Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has already clarified a couple of times that the Centre was not interested in that environmentally destructive project,” he said.