By P.T. Bopanna
The politicians of Kodagu (Coorg) who were vocal during the agitation against the Kasturirangan report, have deserted the people when the district is facing its worst drought.
The politicians had a hidden agenda in shelving the Kasturirangan report because the implementation of the report would have hit hard the timber lobby, who are the main financiers of the politicians belonging to all parties in Kodagu.
The report had sought to regulate the felling of trees in the Western Ghats.
While Kodagu is going through a severe drought which has affected the drinking water situation across the district, the politicians have gone into the silent mode at a time when the people are looking up to them to mitigate the water crisis.
With the Kodagu legislators being elected from the BJP, the Congress being the ruling party in the state, funds are not being released for taking up works to ease the drought.
The impression has gained that chief minister Siddaramaiah wants to punish the people of Kodagu for backing the BJP. The only time the chief minister has shown any interest in the affairs of Kodagu is during the Tipu jayanathi as he wants to divide people on religious grounds to garner votes.
The severity of drought in the birth place of river Cauvery can be gauged from the picture featured in this report. The picture was taken recently at Cherambane, close to Bhgamandala, where water flow used to be good around this time of the year.
However, this year due to the failure of monsoon, the river stretch has become shallow and vehicles like jeeps and trucks can easily be driven across the river at some places. The situation could be worse in the coming summer months as the flow of water could totally stop.
Drinking water situation has turned grim in Virajpet taluk and the places affected include, Ammathi, Virajpet, Balele, Karmadu, Badaga, Banangala, Kakotuparambu, Kadanooru, and Boikeri.
Water bodies inside the Nagarahole Rajiv Gandhi National Park have dried up and wild animals and birds are in search of water to quench their thirst. The Lakshmanathirtha river too has dried up along Kodagu.
The Somwarpet taluk is experiencing the worst drought in the district. Six hoblis – including Shanivarasanthe, Shanthalli and Suntikoppa – 40 gram panchayats and 306 villages are facing shortage of drinking water.
Madikeri MLA Appacchu Ranjan has said all the three taluks in the district have been declared as drought-affected. “The state government has failed to tackle drought. It is the right time to remove silt from lakes, but the treasury of the government is empty. With a meagre amount of Rs 50 lakh, no water crisis in the constituency can be solved.”
Despite the severity of the crisis, the official machinery in the district has not woken up to the situation on grounds of ‘no funds’.
The young Kodagu Lok Sabha member Pratap Simha has not bothered to visit the drought affected areas in the district to listen to the grievances of the people. Unlike the previous Kodagu Lok Sabha member H. Vishwanath, who was accessible to the people, Simha, who resides in Mysuru, is not reachable to people in Kodagu, except for a handful of his supporters. There is a complaint that he spends more time engaging in social media, rather than attending to the woes of people in his constituency.