Parts of Kodagu limping back to normalcy

Parts of Kodagu limping back to normalcy

Amid mist, drizzling and rains, some parts of Kodagu district are limping back to normalcy. It rained again in many parts of the district including in Madikeri town on Saturday.

Even as help and relief materials, including food, flowed from various quarters, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy inspected the flood-affected areas, spoke to the victims and directed the officials concerned to expedite the relief works.

Mandettira Somaiah, an ex-serviceman said, the rains experienced this monsoon has been the highest in the last two decades. “Kodagu was used to such rains two decades ago. Similar rains were experienced once in 2013 also. But, the hardships caused to the people now is due to the rapid growth and also destruction of ecology under the guise of development. It is a result of the increase in the population and also commercialisation of tourism. There has been rampant deforestation in the district, on the Western Ghats. Hamlets have grown into villages, villages have grown into towns and towns have become cities. The growth in the number of vehicles, including heavy goods vehicles, has also had its role,” he pointed out.

According to the details provided by the Control Room of the DC’s office, there are reports that six persons have been killed under the debris of damaged houses. But, the district administration is yet to confirm them. Hundreds of victims have been rescued and are being provided care at the rehabilitation centres (ganji kendras) across the district.

Geetha, a victim under shelter of a ganji kendra at Kushalnagar, said her family has lost everything, including house and belongings. She said, both, she and her husband, were daily wage workers and they have to start life from scratch. She was worried about her two daughters and their education.

Ravi Chengappa of Kaveri Sene said the deluge is due to rampant deforestation. “Environmentalists, including members of Kaveri Sene, have been fighting against encroachment of forests and felling of trees since a few decades. Kaveri Sene itself has been fighting since 15 years. We have opposed various hydel-power projects and the laying of the high-tension power line to Kerala. For the power line itself, 1.5 lakh trees, in both forests and on private lands, have been cut down. Over the past four years, a total of around 4 lakh trees have been felled, across the district,” he said. When it was pointed out that it was unprecedented rains and the damage was sure to happen, he said, since the last couple of decades only, rains are measured in millimetres and centimetres in Kodagu.

“Earlier, it was measured in inches. It has to be agreed that it was unprecedented as there was drought since the past four years. This climatic imbalance is also a result of human intervention like cloud-seeding over the past few years. Deforestation is happening for a few decades but, it has been rampant over the past one decade.  Trees play a vital role in conserving rainwater and act as a shield against soil erosion. Trees check rainwater from falling directly on the ground,” he said.

He said, the timber mafia targets mostly old and huge trees.

“Old and huge trees act as agents for recharging of underground water. Usually, heavy rains and also winds are experienced in Kodagu region during Shravana month. Due to winds, the roots loosen and facilitate seeping in of water into the ground. Besides, trees hold a lot of water, which fall on the ground after a lapse of time. Dry leaves on the ground also hold a lot of water,” said Ravi Chengappa.