Green valley turns a dust bowl in Magadi

Green valley turns a dust bowl in Magadi

Official apathy

In crisis: The bamboo pond inside the sanctuary is now highly polluted. dh PhotoThe sanctuary set up at a cost of crores of rupees with ponds, play areas for children and an impressive infrastructure is now on the decline.

Deer, crocodiles, peacocks, ducks and cranes that populated the sanctuary have long been gone, the ponds are polluted and the winding road inside the sanctuary turns into a mud track during rains and a dust bowl in hot sun.

The sanctuary, created when H Viswanath was Forests minister, was set up with enthusiasm and commitment.

The bust of Bengaluru founder Kempe Gowda who built the fort at Savanadurga, greeted visitors. A cannon used by Tipu’s army, which conquered Savanadurga, was retrieved and installed right behind the bust of Kempe Gowda.

Dozens of peacocks would roam the park, crocodiles would swim in the ponds, ducks would paddle in water bodies, and swarms of deer would attract visitors.

The verandah where Kempe Gowda would hold court was restored, the famed Kashi Vishveshvara temple was renovated and the ancient bamboo pond was revived and boating introduced.

Developed as a resort, the sanctuary had lodging for visitors. The sanctuary had tents for adventure enthusiasts, hikers and trekkers.

The neglect by the Forest authorities has now rendered the sanctuary comatose. Four huge cottages have come up inside the park, but the rest of the sanctuary has been left to languish. The deer, numbering 30, have vanished. The crocodile pond has dried up and the crocs have gone. The peacocks and the ducks are not to be seen anywhere.

Worse, Tipu’s cannon, which was installed behind the bust of Kempe Gowda, is missing.

Officials feign ignorance.

Savanadurga, one of the pristine environment hot spots in Karnataka, is unique for its biodiversity, was commented upon by Col Branfill way back in 1881.

Just 55 km from Bangalore, the hills of the Savanadurga range are rich in flora and fauna and can be a major tourist destination, if only the departments of Forest and Tourism wake up, that is, says environmentalist Narasimha Murthy.

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