In a victory for citizens and activists, who have been protesting against proposed railway lines through Kodagu, the Ministry of Railways has decided to scrap the proposed railway line linking Mysuru and Thalassery via Kodagu.
Answering a question about the proposed railway line in Parliament on Wednesday, Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Railways said, “No project Thalassery-Mysuru new line is included in the budget”.
On Monday, a delegation comprising office-bearers of Kodagu Ekikarna Ranga and trustees of Wildlife First – MK Chinnappa, Praveen Bhargav, former National Wildlife Board member and HNA Prasad — submitted a memorandum to the Railway Minister opposing the line through Kodagu district and appealed to him to drop the project upon which they received a verbal confirmation from the minister that the Mysuru-Thalassery railway line via Kodagu will not be taken up.
The decision to scrap the project comes after a sustained campaign by citizens, environmentalists and activists in Karnataka, who have been up in arms about the proposal and launched several protests against it.
The first protest against the railway line 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 30,000 signatures. A third protest was held last month on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mysuru when thousands of citizens gathered at Mysuru’s Dasara Exhibition Grounds to protest against the proposed railway line.
Col. Muthanna, President of the Coorg Wildlife Foundation, who has been spearheading the protests, welcomed the move to scrap the project but warned that the fight is far from over as there is still no clarity over another proposed railway line between Mysuru and Kushalnagar in Kodagu district.
“We have won the first battle and we definitely welcome the news that the proposed railway line linking Mysuru and Thalassery via Kodagu will be scrapped but the Minister has not spoken about the other line linking Mysuru and Kushalnagar, which may extend up to Mangaluru,” said Col. Muthanna.
In response to questions posed by Mysuru MP Pratap Simha in the Lok Sabha in 2016, the Ministry of Railways confirmed that a field survey for a railway line connecting Mysuru-Kushalnagar-Madikeri was completed, however, no timeline was stipulated for the start of the project.
Col. Muthanna further questioned the construction of a facility by the Ministry of Railways at Stone Hill in Madikeri. “We do not know yet what they are building but if it is a project office they are building then it is definitely questionable. We are asking the Ministry of Railways for clarity over that as well,” said Col. Muthanna.
He also said that a project to build four national highways through Kodagu will spell doom for the district. Activists fear that thousands of trees will be cut down, availability of drinking water will be affected and also point out that it poses a threat to elephants in the region. “The railway line and the national highway projects will seriously damage the green cover in Kodagu. We are also facing problems with availability of water in the summer and the problems are even deeper downstream in the south,” he added.