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Govt may ditch Chamundi ropeway as protest grows

Citizens, activists, heritage experts and engineers have condemned the two-way carriage ropeway, which is proposed to cover a distance of 8 km from the foothills
iranjan Kaggere
Last Updated : 07 April 2022, 05:07 IST
Last Updated : 07 April 2022, 05:07 IST
Last Updated : 07 April 2022, 05:07 IST
Last Updated : 07 April 2022, 05:07 IST

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The state government’s announcement to build a ropeway at Chamundi Hills in Mysuru has snowballed into a controversy with Greens flagging possible large-scale destruction of the fragile ecosystem. Now, with more people joining the chorus, Mysuru District-in-charge Minister and Minister for Cooperation S T Somashekhar said the government won’t pursue the project if public doesn’t want it.

Citizens, activists, heritage experts and engineers have condemned the two-way carriage ropeway, which is proposed to cover a distance of 8 km from the foothills. The long list of infrastructural projects under the Centre’s PRASHAD scheme has also unsettled conservationists.

Pramoda Devi Wadiyar, a member of the erstwhile royal family of Mysuru, said on Wednesday, “There is no necessity for a ropeway to cover a distance of 20 minutes’ travel.” She said a lot of damage has already been done to the hillock. “A township and commercial complex seem to have been planned atop the hillock which is again out of context. The site has to be conserved as a place of worship and retained intact.” She also argued that all projects have to be backed by scientific studies.

Dropped twice in the past, the project has made a comeback for the third time, according to experts.

Prof (Retd) N S Rangaraju of Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Mysuru said, “No study has been done on the carrying capacity of the hillock whose historical relevance dates back to 950 AD. On average, 40 to 50 lakh people visit Mysuru annually. A ropeway to a monolithic hillock can be considered but not at Chamundi Hills, which is dotted with fragile landscape. At best, the government has to regulate the current traffic to the hillock and enforce a ban on heavy vehicles.”

Maj Gen (Retd) S G Vombatkere, VSM and an expert in structural dynamics who was part of the Institute of Engineers Team that assessed the landslide at the hillock a few months ago, said the hillock is a composition of several geographical forms. “While the southern side is steep, the northern and western sides reveal unique topography. A ropeway with pillars all along the alignment path violates forest laws as the hillock was notified as a reserve forest in 1929. The government has no clue on the economic viability of the project,” he said.

Citing the changing climatic conditions, Vombatkere said, “Due to the unusual precipitation, the entire hill was saturated with rainwater. A longitudinal gap varying 250 to 300 mm in width and 200 to 250 mm in depth was noticed between the hill slide cut-face slope above the road. The rainwater flowing through this gap entered the road sub-structure underneath the asphalted surface, resulting in the failure of the fill embankment slope.”

PWD engineers confirmed to DH that the repair work as recommended by the IISc experts will be taken up by the end of April. However, they clarified that they have not been consulted on the ropeway project.

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Published 06 April 2022, 19:01 IST

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