EDITORIAL | CM, keep your promise to Kodagu

EDITORIAL | CM, keep your promise to Kodagu

Homes being built for flood victims in Madikeri's Karnamgeri.

Last August, Kodagu the picturesque coffee growing hill district of Karnataka, was devastated by heavy rains, flash floods and landslides, causing immense damage to life and property. About 18 people were reported dead, over 2,500 houses were destroyed, while hundreds of acres of fully developed plantations were buried under the mud. Many in the affected areas were left with no physical possessions but their own lives. In the face of the disaster, the district administration and the state government acted with amazing alacrity and unusual competence in launching search, rescue and relief operations, but the same enthusiasm is lacking in the case of rehabilitation work, with the authorities adopting a piecemeal approach to tide over the immediate crisis through patchwork instead of a long-term comprehensive re-development plan.  Hoards of political bigwigs who descended on the district during the calamity are nowhere to be seen now, while the tall promises they made remain only on paper. The government has completely failed the people of Kodagu.

Victims unlikely to get houses before rainy season

Almost four months after the disaster, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy belatedly laid the foundation stone for 840 two-bedroom houses, with a promise that at least 55 of them will be completed within one month. However, to date, not even a single house has been constructed. The district administration had identified nearly 100 acres of land at Karnangeri, Made, Sampaje, Kushalnagar and Jambooru, of which construction has moved beyond the foundation level only at one site. Unless the government acts on a war footing and completes the buildings within the next three months, which is unlikely, not much progress will be achieved as with the onset of monsoon in May, no construction activity can be undertaken due to the heavy rains. Some of the affected prefer the new houses to be built on their own agricultural lands, instead of being translocated elsewhere, but with the government banning conversion of land, this appears to be a far cry. Due to the lackadaisical attitude of the government, the homeless will now have to brave themselves for a harsh monsoon without a roof over their heads.

Govt fails Kodagu families, not a single house ready

The need of the hour is to appoint a senior officer exclusively to oversee rehabilitation, including construction of houses, roads, bridges and other infrastructure destroyed during the rains. The government should also shed its inhibitions about the private sector and encourage corporate funding to rebuild the district. Limited permission for conversion may also be granted to enable planters to construct houses on their own land. During the disaster, Kumaraswamy had assured that Kodagu would be rebuilt on “better than before” basis. It is now time for him to keep his promise.

Rain-hit Kodagu people's woes yet to melt away