Eco concerns raised as railways revives line to Madikeri

The ministry has approved Rs 58.5 lakh as the cost for survey of the 117-km railway Shravanabelagola-Madikeri line
Last Updated : 29 May 2022, 10:47 IST

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Nearly two decades after a plan to build a railway line to Madikeri was put to rest, the Railway Board has sanctioned a survey for a line from Shravanabelagola to Madikeri, raising concerns over ecological destruction in the fragile Western Ghats district.

A letter from the director of the Board, received by the South Western Railway (SWR) recently, says the railway ministry has approved four lines, including Shravanabelagola-Madikeri and Gangavati-Daroji lines under SWR's jurisdiction.

The ministry has approved Rs 58.5 lakh as the cost for survey of the 117-km railway Shravanabelagola-Madikeri line, which will pass through Holenarsipur, Arkalgud, Konanur and Kushalnagar.

"Considering the vulnerability of the Western Ghats, any railway line is an harbinger of disaster. If the governments have not learnt about the sensitivity of Kodagu district from the landslides witnessed since 2018, we have no hope for the future of biodiversity and water security of the state," a senior forest officer who studied the region told DH.

Sources in the railways said this was not the first time a railway line to Kodagu was planned.

"In 1997-98, the railways conducted a survey to build a railway line from Channarayapatna to Kushalnagar. However, the project was found to be nonviable," he said.

M U Nachappa of Codava National Council said that instead of addressing the concerns raised by the people of Kodagu, the governments at the state and the Centre were coming up with projects that will serve vested industries.

"This railway line will benefit contractors, quarries and industries. People of Kodagu don't want this. The present highways to Kodagu are providing good connectivity to serve the tourism sector. What we have been asking for years are better roads to connect the rural interiors in the district," he said.

He said the projects will only hasten the process of "removing Kodavas" from their ancestral land.

"In the last two decades, uber rich people from across the country are acquiring lands here to build resorts. They have essentially driven out the Kodavas who lived on these lands for generations," Nachappa said.

Previously, opposition by environmentalists had forced the Karnataka government to take a tacit stand against the Nanjangud-Nilambur and Thalassery-Mysuru railway lines, passing through wildlife sanctuaries in Nagarahole and Bandipur.

To a question, sources in the railways said political pressure was mounted on the railways to sanction the line.

Published 26 May 2022, 17:03 IST

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