Height of commercialisation at State's tallest peak
Greens see red as govt gives permission for resort, hotel in Mullayyanagiri
The State government has gone to town with its opposition to the biodiversity heritage tag given to the Western Ghats, saying it has enough laws to protect the environment.
But, alarmingly, there has been a rampant increase in the number of private resorts and homestays coming up in the eco-sensitive region and the government has been quietly giving permission.
One such is an international resort being constructed by a private company at the foot of Mullayyanagiri, the tallest peak in the State, spending several crores of rupees.
The district administration is being criticised by environment organisations for the permission given to the company. This, when the economically backward classes need to approach officers of about a dozen departments to be allowed to build a mere hut.
The new resort is coming up on seven acres and 10 guntas on survey numbers 344 and 216 at Channagondanahalli-Pandavarahalli in the Mullayyanagiri hill ranges. Eight villas have already been constructed, with 12 more in the pipeline.
The company has also laid the foundation for a multi-storey hotel there. The place selected for the project is a source for many rivers and is very near to the Bhadra Tiger Reserve.
Religious shrines like Mullayyanagiri, Seethalayyanagiri and Rudragiri too are in the vicinity of the place.
It is said the officials of the revenue department have recommended to the deputy commissioner the sanction of permission without considering any of these factors.
Greens complain that the tahsildar had given a report that there was no temple, church and mosque in the vicinity.
The Talihalla Gram Panchayat too had given a no objection certificate, saying the villagers were not opposed to the project, say the greens. The district administration has failed to provide details on the use of water, waste management on the resort site and the map to the environmentalists, the greens said.
District officer of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), Sunil Kumar, told Deccan Herald that the project proponents had submitted the application for constructing 30 villas at a cost of Rs 4.36 crore and they had only given a no objection certificate. But the permission for the resort project was given by the central office of the KSPCB under the single window clearance system.
“When land conversion applications for resorts or homestays are submitted, it should be brought to the notice of the forest department by the district administration. Only then can we conduct a spot inspection and stop work if there are violations. We have no information on the Channagondanahalli project. We will act if there are complaints,” said Venkateshan, Deputy Conservator of Forests.
Environmentalists cite instances from the past of the district administration stalling resort projects causing harm to the ecology. It should do so in the project in question too, environmentalists D V Girish and Sridev Hulikere said.
Meanwhile, T L Ashok, convenor of the Karnataka Janashakti Sanghatane, said a ‘save Mullayyanagiri’ campaign would soon be launched on the lines of the ‘save Bababudangiri’ campaign.
He said resorts would be detrimental to local culture and the highly eco-sensitive zone on the State’s tallest mountain peak. Locals would be forced to do menial jobs in the resort, he feared.
He warned of a Statewide agitation if the decision to allow the resort was not reversed.