A CRY FROM THE HEART
From: Air Marshal K.C. Cariappa (Retd), Madikeri, Kodagu
To: The Honorable Prime Minister of India, New Delhi
Today we find our homeland in peril because of the rapacity, and lure of filthy lucre by self-serving politicians of all hues, and greedy Mafiosi who control nefarious activities pertaining to our forests, sand-mining, land and water resources.
Kodagu is the proverbial goose that over the years has laid the ‘golden egg’ for Bangalore. This tiny district of 4100 sq kms is the source, and principal catchment area of the river Cauvery that sustains eight crore population in South Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and provides for requirement of over 600 major industries in the region.
The river is drying, and slowly dying not only because of failed monsoons but more for the unbridled rape of the land. Forests are dwindling because of timber-felling. The water-table is getting lower each year because what were underground reservoirs are depleting as more and more paddy fields are being converted into housing colonies and residential sites.
High value luxury resorts are being developed on what were once thriving coffee estates which further consume diminishing water resources. Illegal sand-mining from river beds is being done with impunity as a ‘water mafia’ thrives on the misery and hardship of those who are dependent on them for the supply of water.
All this is happening in the land of the Cauvery that once received an average of 100” of rainfall annually. Utter disregard for the environment has eaten into wildlife habitat as a result that not a day passes when there has not been a tragedy involving elephants and a hapless population. The land was given to my generation by our forefathers for safe-keeping in the interest of the future.
They designated small ‘sacred groves’ of woodland that were inviolate with a shrine dedicated to a woodland deity. These today are being encroached upon to construct the ‘five-star’ resorts referred to earlier. As it is, despite protests over 50,000 trees were felled to erect a high-tension power line to traverse the district!
A further threat to the environment is the determination with which our politicians wish to drive two railway lines through forest, coffee estates and paddy fields to connect Mysore to Kodagu and Kerala. There is also similar sinister purpose in the widening of north-south and east–west highways into four-lanes with the same devastating environment/ecology disaster that is inevitable. All these will result in the ‘desertification’ of a one-time lush and pristine landscape. Strangely, none of our politicians irrespective of party affiliation have made any comment on the impact of the various projects on the environment!
Mr. Prime Minister, you are the last bastion of hope for the people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to ensure that the specter of desertification does not become a reality. Please intervene and put an end to the proposal to construct a railway line, and to the unnecessary widening of our arterial highways. All these will have a devastating effect on the food, water and economic security of this region in South India. These ills can be thwarted by declaring the entire district as an ‘eco-sensitive zone as defined by the Environment Protection Act.