By P.T. Bopanna
The appointment of Charulata Somal (in picture), a committed environmentalist, as the new deputy commissioner of Kodagu (Coorg), has raised a lot of hope among the people of this hill district in Karnataka.
A few comments welcoming Charulata’s appointment has been reproduced at the end of this report.
Kodagu, located in the Western Ghats, has been ravaged by landslides in the past three years. The plunder of forest wealth by the timber mafia, hand-n-glove with the elected representatives, had led to the disaster.
The politician-timber merchant lobby was so powerful in Karnataka, especially in Kodagu, that they did not allow a debate on the Kasturirangan report for safeguarding the Western Ghats, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
Even the present BJP-led B.S. Yediyurappa government has rejected the Kasturirangana report, paving the way for the continued looting of the forest wealth.
The action of the outgoing DC Annies Joy to deploy excavators at Raja Seat, a tourist spot at Madikeri, had raised the hackles of the people as the area had suffered extensive landslides in 2018.
In the circumstances, the appointment of Charulata has brought hope to the people of Kodagu.
The new DC is the first IAS officer to have gone on expedition to Antarctica. In March 2016, she was part of the International Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Swan for ‘A Leadership on the Edge Program to the Last Wilderness on Earth’
A committed environmentalist, Somal, started E-base in Kodagu after her return from Antarctica to promote environmental education.
Reproduced below are a few of the comments that were received from netizens to the appointment of Charulata as the new DC.
Gita Chengappa wrote: Hope with an eco-sensitive DC in place, our pristine Coorg, ravaged by the vagaries of the weather, will see better planning and healing, going forward and uncalled for developments around Raja Seat and Railway Projects, are put on hold or disbanded.
Sita Bopaiah: Let’s consider Ms Somal a God sent gift to Kodagu. She being a committed environmentalist would definitely feel the pulse of our land which is abused looted and ravaged as if it’s nobody’s business. Let her tenure be a soothing balm on Kodagu s very many wounds which are still raw. Let the land retain its natural pristine charm.
Nikesh Bopanna: It is indeed a moment of happiness for us to have someone close to nature in such a position.
Cariappa K N: I am sure we could find a solution to keep the River Cauvery clean and remedy the unscientific manner the garbage is managed in Coorg, especially in Madikeri town.
Bachamada Bhavi: Our forests in Coorg are bare without good food trees. Number of animals increased but essential water and food dried up. Many human lives are lost due to conflict between animals.