The Modi-led BJP government at the Centre is all set to implement the Mysore-Kushalanagar-Madikeri railway line which could spell an ecological disaster in the Cauvery basin.
Though the project was found to be economically unviable, it is being pushed through under pressure from Union minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Kodagu Lok Sabha member Pratap Simha. The project involves cutting down of thousands of trees in the ecologically sensitive Kodagu district which has already come under severe strain following the chopping of 50,000 trees last year for a power line to Kerala.
According to a report in The Hindu, the Mysuru-Kodagu railway line is set to become a reality as the techno-economic survey for the entire stretch of 130 km is expected to secure approval from the Railway Board shortly.
Once the green signal is received from the Railway Board, the final location survey will also be taken up to pave way for the actual commencement of the new railway line project to be implemented on a cost-sharing basis between the railways and Karnataka government.
Though the Kodagu railway line was shelved earlier after an engineering-cum-traffic survey found the project to be unviable, it was revived by Sadananada Gowda when he was briefly a railway minister before he was shunted out of the ministry. It was being said that Gowda was hell-bent on the Kodagu rail project to please his wife Daty who hailed from a village near Kushalanagar.
At a news conference held at Mysore on Friday, the Divisional Railway Manager Atul Gupta and other senior officials confirmed that the techno-economic survey had been completed and submitted to the higher authorities.
Interestingly, the wily Gupta did not comment on the rate of returns of investment, but claimed that even if the rate of returns are low railway projects help in shoring up the overall economic development of a region.
The president of the Coorg Wildlife Society Col C.P. Muthanna said: “We are a population of only 5 lakh people and Kodagu is well-connected to all major cities in the vicinity by road. We do not require the railroad. The proposed railroad, which has been approved by the government, will require nearly 50,000 trees to be felled from the region.”
The Mysore-Kushalanagar-Madikeri railway line will drastically reduce the flow of water in the Cauvery which could further accentuate the dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of Cauvery.