Railway limits Mysuru-Madikeri line to Kushalnagar

Railway limits Mysuru-Madikeri line to Kushalnagar

The Railways has decided to restrict the proposed Mysuru-Kushalnagar-Madikeri line to Kushalnagar, following opposition from people as well as elected representatives over fears of environmental destruction.

The project was announced in the Railway budget for 2012-13 and Railway officials who conducted the preliminary survey estimated that the Mysuru-Madikeri line will cost Rs 666.78 crore. However, environmentalists and the public noted that a railway line to Madikeri was bound to unleash damage in the forests known for their bio-diversity.

The Railways conducted a detailed survey for the Mysuru-Kushalnagar line, but the survey for the Kushalnagar-Madikeri section could not be conducted as the Forest department did not give permission for the same. Union Statistics and Planning Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, who was then the Railway Minister, wrote to the state government in October 2014, seeking permission for the project inside the forest. “I would like to have your personal intervention to issue necessary instructions to the authorities concerned in the Forest department to grant requisite permission to the Railways,” Gowda had written to the then chief minister Siddaramaiah.

Sources in South Western Railway (SWR) said the decision to drop the Kushalnagar-Madikeri stretch from the project was taken following opposition from Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha. “For the Mysuru-Kushalnagar line, there will be no environmental damage. Also, there is a legitimate demand for railway connectivity from a section of the people. After the MP expressed his reservations, officials have dropped the stretch up to Madikeri,” they said.

SWR chief public relations officer E Vijaya said the Mysuru-Kushalnagar survey was completed and a report was submitted to the Railway Board in May 2018. “Cost sharing with the state government will be decided once work is sanctioned and is included in the budget. A revised project cost is being worked out,” she said. Railway activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar, who has sought the details of the project under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, said the Kushalnagar line would not serve the whole purpose. “Instead of working on a project that serves half the purpose, the Railways should focus on doubling the Mysuru-Hassan line and develop the stations between them, like KR Nagar, in view of the growing demand from passengers,” he said.