A social media campaign has been launched to protect Coorg from a railway track that is being planned from Mysore. The reason being that it may require lakhs of trees to be cut. Calling Coorg the ‘Water Tank of Bangalore’, the online petition has gathered close to 14,000 signatures as of 11th June, 2016. Support has flowed in across geographical boundaries, to save the trees that create the Cauvery. A Facebook page called Timber Express has been sharing updates about the performance of the petition.
A number of organisations have come together to prevent this impending ecological disaster: Coorg Wildlife Society, Save River Cauvery, Kaveri Sene, Basavanna Devara Bana Samithi and Save Kodagu. These organisations have found support from the many Bangalore-based social media communities.
Celebrities who stepped in to support the cause have been Nikhil Chinappa, Milind Soman, Deepak Chopra, and Rohan Bopanna.
Interestingly enough, the initial announcements made said the railway track would be built only till Kushalnagar, the gateway to Coorg and not travel inwards through the estates towards Madikeri. But an RTI filed revealed that the track was actually being planned till Makkadnur a few km outside Madikeri.
Understandably the environmentalists are disturbed, especially seen in the light of recent history, last year 50,000 trees were axed in Coorg to make a path for a high-tension power line to Kerala. This was pushed through despite stiff opposition from the people. This loss of such a large number of trees might have had a strong negative impact on Coorg’s ecology, if we consider the severe short fall in the pre-monsoon rains this year.
The government adding new trees to the list of trees that can be cut has already resulted in the loss of a few more lakhs of trees.
The feasibility study done by the Railways termed this railway route as economically not feasible. But the track is still being pushed through, raising eyebrows as to why that was being done.
WHY ARE THE TREES IN COORG SO IMPORTANT TO SO MANY OTHER REGIONS?
Location – while the hills of the Western Ghats straddle many districts of Karnataka, most of the rivers born in these districts flow into the sea and not towards the cities of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Which makes the Cauvery and the estates and forests that give birth to her, a precious asset.
Also Coorg’s forests and estates are the catchment area for the Cauvery, in fact 50% of the volume comes from Coorg alone. It is possible that lakhs of trees will be lost to lay the railway track from Kushalnagar to Madikeri and onwards to Mangalore. Besides which, the long-standing demand of the people of Kerala, for connectivity between Tellicherry and Mysore, would be also be met with another track as it would now be so convenient…and a few more lakh trees would be cut.
The impact of the tree cutting done, for this network of railway tracks will be felt not only locally, but on the drinking water supply of Bangalore (already suffering from shortages), Mysore and Mandya District in Karnataka…and downstream in Tamil Nadu… the thickly populated districts of Salem, Erode, Tiruchi, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam would not be able to bear the loss of the reduced water supply.
THE TIME MAY HAVE COME TO REDEFINE ‘PROGRESS’ IN THE HILLY AND FORESTED DISTRICTS OF KARNATAKA.
What constitutes progress in a forested and hilly district needs to be closely relooked at. The short-sighted projects that do not protect the natural resources that is needed by cities downstream, have to be shelved permanently. Cities are the growth engines of our State and Nation but they cannot function without water and oxygen.
As one supporter in Bangalore put it “Rain is more important than train.”
SIGN & SAVE WHAT RIGHTLY BELONGS TO YOU, YOUR DRINKING WATER.
Support has been growing steadily for the campaign and the Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu responded to a Tweet saying he would look into this issue.
I request readers to visit the link shared below and sign the petition, so we can tell the Govt that the people of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and even the rest of India , have woken up to this threat. Please put a stop to such misadventurism in Coorg. Sign and give us your support at Https://goo.gl/RKceMM