By P.T. Bopanna
While welcoming Kodagu Lok Sabha member Pratap Simha’s meeting with chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy against permitting the Thaassery-Mysuru rail line, Simha’s silence on the Mysuru-Kushalanagar-Madikeri line is worrisome.
When people of Kodagu are fighting against any kind of rail link to Kodagu (Coorg), Simha’s role in secretly working for the Mysuru-Madikeri line, gives the impression that Kodagu MP is following a policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, while at the same time pushing his pet project.
It is no secret that Mysuru-Kushalanagar line is a pet project of Simha as he wants to please the people of the Hunsur-Periyapatna belt, part of his Lok Sabha constituency, in the run up to next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
Simha has been meeting railway minister Piyush Goyal to expedite the Mysuru-Madikeri railway line which was listed in the Railway Budget 2016-17 under “new line” category at an estimated cost of Rs 667 crore and the techno-economic survey is complete.
Forces backed by the notorious Kerala timber lobby has been carrying out a disinformation campaign that the railway line will not be extended to Madikeri from Kushalanagar. This is also the stand taken by Simha also in the past. But the railways have not said anything about not extending the line from Kushalanagar to Madikeri.
The disinformation campaign by the timber lobby has led most of the people in Kodagu to believe that there was nothing wrong in putting up the railway line till Kushalanagar. Once the Kushalanagar rail line is complete, the Kerala lobby will bring pressure on extending it to Madikeri and beyond.
During his meeting on Tuesday with the chief minister, Simha pointed out that the systematic cutting of trees to implement projects in Kodagu over the years has led to deficient rainfall and depletion of water in river Cauvery.
If the same analogy is extended to the Kushalanagar line, the loss of trees and greenery will be considerable and have long time impact on the fragile ecology of the region.
In the circumstances, Simha should categorically state that he will not permit any rail link to Kodagu.