The citizens of Karnatakaâ€™s Kodagu district have been protesting against the construction of a railway line through the district, but the project was reportedly approved by the central government on January 13.
Citizen groups in Kodagu have been protesting against the railway line which would connect Mysuru and Thalssery via Kodagu. They fear that thousands of trees will be cut down for the project, and also say that it poses a threat to elephants in the region.
"We will do everything in our power to resist this. We will go to court. We will hold protests. Most of the gram panchayats in south Coorg have reservations about the project. It is against democratic principles to just ignore gram panchayats when they say we don't want," said Col. Muthanna, President of the Coorg Wildlife Society.
The Society also plans to hold a protest in Madikeri soon.
"It is very likely that the project will disturb wildlife and create more human-nature conflict. There is also the concern of an influx of people and the marginalisation of local communities," he said.
The Coorg Wildlife Society, Kodagu Growers Federation, United Kodava Organisation, Save River Cauvery Forum, and several other organisations have held protests against the proposed railway line under the banner of â€˜Save Kodaguâ€™ and â€˜Save Cauveryâ€™.
The first protest was held in Madikeri on June 4, 2017 and the second was held at Kutta on August 26, 2017. A change.org petition against the construction of the railway track has also registered over 24,000 signatures.
The project was earlier shelved after the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government undertook a preliminary survey in 2011. They concluded that the route would be unprofitable.
However, the project was revived at the end of 2011 when a new survey was commissioned by the then Union Minister for State Railways KH Muniyappa. This came after BJPâ€™s BS Yeddyurappa promised to bear 50% of the costs of the proposed railway line.
The survey was approved in 2014 by Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda as part of the newly formed BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government, and was completed despite protests in the district by activists and citizens in 2017.
While the central government is in favour of constructing a railway line through Kodagu, district in-charge MR Seetharaman is opposed to the plan.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has written a letter to the Central government asking them not to take up projects in the district. BJP MLA KG Bopaiah, however, seeks to reach a compromise by constructing the railway line only till Kushalnagar.