Kodagu First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Kodagu, Coorgs and the People of Kodagu – here at Home and Overseas
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    Karnataka district has India’s highest concentration of home-stays, according to HolidayIQ study

    The picturesque scenery of Coorg

    The picturesque scenery of Coorg

    The Kodagu district of Karnataka, also known as Coorg, offers the largest amount home-stay accommodation in India, according a new study.

    HolidayIQ, the Indian online travel site, has revealed a series of trends relating to the country’s home-stay sector. And according to its listings, 13% of Indian home-stays are located in Coorg, followed by Kochi with 9%. Located in the Western Ghats, Coorg is famous for its mountainous jungles and its native Kodava residents.

    In total, HolidayIQ found a total of 1,663 Indian home-stay options distributed among 207 destinations. And many are concentrated in the same areas; destinations with 10 or more home-stays accounted for 76% of the entire market.

    Home-stays in Coorg and Kochi, plus the Kerala destinations of Alleppey, Wayanad and Munnar, were found to offer better value-for-money than other types of accommodation.

    “With the growth of the online travel industry, in all its different guises, people now have a lot more information at their fingertips and the research has become a larger, richer part of holiday planning. At the same time, travel industry providers have grown exponentially in India, so travellers now have more options than ever,” HolidayIQ said in its report.

    “The diversity of India is legendary presenting travellers with endless opportunities to sell its charms. Home-stays in India are now becoming the popular new concept of tourism. In the recent years Home-stays and the trend of offering budget accommodation is picking up. Homes are the new hotels,” it added.

    source: http://www.traveldailymedia.com / Travel Daily India / Home> Hote & Spa / by Mark Elliot / July 24th, 2015

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    Different kind of busy: The local hospital in Ammathi sees all kinds of illnesses and injuries. Photo: Sukalyan Basu

    Different kind of busy: The local hospital in Ammathi sees all kinds of illnesses and injuries. Photo: Sukalyan Basu

    Hooked to the silence, slowness and familiarity of Ammathi, this town in Coorg suits me fine

    It is 20 minutes since I got out of bed to the alarm bell of our cat wanting to go out. I’m seated before my laptop, with a tumbler of filter coffee by my side. I listen to the birds, of which there are at least a dozen varieties in our garden. When a two-wheeler (a nurse’s husband leaving for work a little before 7am) drones outside and my husband begins to get restive for his second cup of coffee, I switch off the laptop. The next half-hour is reserved for sitting by the window, doing nothing. By half-past eight, I’m in the hospital.

    All sweetness and light? No. Today, for instance, in the emergency ward there is a man who fell while plucking pepper and broke his back; a suspected cerebral malaria, which can kill in quick time; an attempted suicide (using pesticide) and a woebegone tribal whose wife tried hacking off his leg with an axe.

    A surgeon in a rural hospital must treat every type of illness that comes in: broken ankles, diabetic ulcers, scorpion and snake bites, hernias, tumours, lungs with tuberculosis, bleeding guts and gangrenous limbs, suicide attempts and family quarrels ending in mental and physical damage. I love the unpredictability and the challenges that keep coming at us. The day over, I come home and, after half an hour of watching television, I am in the kitchen making tea, anticipating the quiet hours I have before bedtime.

    Ammathi is a little town in south Kodagu (Coorg), with two-and-a-half streets, a post office, a hospital, a convent and a government school, a police outpost, bank, vegetable vendor, three liquor shops, one of which is also the newsagent, a bakery and others that sell everything from lipstick to cattle feed. Many houses huddle alongside the shops, while larger bungalows hide inside coffee estates that stretch in all directions beyond the town.

    Coorg offers easy, lazy holidays of doing nothing besides sighting elephants, enjoying the silken air of my childhood, or what’s left of it, feasting on Kodava food like pandi curry (pork curry), akki otti (rice roti), kadambutoo (rice dumplings) and crab. Visitors always say they are dying of envy for us locals but hardly ever wish to stay longer than a weekend.

    “How do you spend your time here?” we’re asked. “What do you do on weekends?”

    Weekend? Mine is half a Sunday. This week, I had to forsake my half hour of television and trot back — on a Sunday evening — to the wards: an eight-year-old girl with serious injuries that happened at home. It might even be a police case…

    “Visitors always say they are dying of envy for us locals but hardly ever wish to stay longer than a weekend”

    To make a living doing what you really enjoy is a blessing to be preserved at any cost. Once a week we go to the Sunday market to buy vegetables, although half of what we consume comes from our own garden and from my doctor friends, nurses and family. Everyone knows everyone else in our community and exchanging produce is common practice. When we drive, we can sometimes give a lift to a woman or children waiting for a bus along the way, a custom long abandoned in most urban areas for understandable reasons.

    Fresh sardines from across the hills bordering Kerala are on sale in town; if you are willing to indulge in a shady deal, you can have venison, partridge, rabbit or wildfowl on your dining table. All that enviable brawn and swagger that you see in our Kodava men is thanks to the muscle-building properties of wild meat, no doubt about it.

    Our town has progressed from my childhood days of oil lamps and lanterns. Years ago came the outsiders who climbed the hills of Malanad to sell sardines and bananas. These Maplahs soon began to trade in oranges, cardamom and pepper. They made money, built homes (at first modest little houses that were always either pink or green) and put down roots. These hard-brained Malayalis have cornered most of the trade and help sustain the economy. With the recent flood of migrants from the north, we Kodavas have been reduced to a minority. And that we do not like.

    But signs of affluence are everywhere. On the busy streets, cars outnumber people. Ammathi boasts 18 auto-rickshaws. Most accidents that take place here involve one of these.

    My patients are puzzled when they hear that besides doctoring, I ‘write stories’. Fellow writers feel the same about my profession. Recently the friend of a friend who was holidaying in Coorg with her family brought her daughter to me with an abscess that needed to be drained. She asked repeatedly if it was possible to do it here and later when the girl was well, came to thank me. “We’re so lucky that you are here,” she gushed. “We were planning to cut short our holiday and go back to Mumbai for treatment.” City people always think that medical help in rural areas will be non-existent or sub-standard.

    Habits die hard and we’ve got comfortably hooked to silence and slowness. I like living in this place with its haphazard development, elephants on the roads and the long journeys to some urban paradise for a few days of ‘comfort’. I want to be able to go to the shop nearest home and buy two eggs for tonight’s dinner and owe ₹8 to the shopkeeper to be paid soon enough when my husband needs an urgent box of matches, or the shopkeeper brings his child to me with stomach ache.

    When I vote in the next elections, I want to enter the two-roomed, tile-roofed panchayat office and stand in line next to friends, cousins, patients, the gardener, plumber and the red-eyed local drunk and cast my ballot. I hope I will never have to face the jolt of living in any place that is bigger. Smaller is all right. Very much all right.

    (In this monthly series, authors chronicle the cities they call home.)

    Kavery Nambisan

    Kavery Nambisan

    Kavery Nambisan is a surgeon and the author of A Town Like Ours

    source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com / BLink / Home> Read > HomeSpun / by Kavery Nambisan / January 02nd, 2015

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    Kasturirangan Varadi Horata Samiti Member Cheranda Nanda Subbaiah called upon people of Kodagu district to arrive at large number to express their opposition to Kasturirangan report, during the visit of State-level expert panel members, at Fort premises in Madikeri on Friday.

    Speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, he said: “The people of the district should stop the recommendations of Kasturirangan report from implementing as it is question of our future generation. The draft published by the Central government is completely anti-people. Members of the various organisations and general public should express their objections before the expert panel members,” he said.

    “The recomendation is made to identify Western Ghat and 10 km of nearby area as ecologically sensitive areas and ban mining and other activities in the region. So, opposing the reporting is our necessity and need of the hour. We have do demand to keep residential areas, farm land, coffee plantations, Devarakaadu areas of tribal out of the ecologically sensitive area. If we don’t get positive response from government’s side, we will continue our protest,” he said.

    If they declare ecologically sensitive areas, C and D land, Baane lands will be declared as deemed forest. Buffer zones will also be declared. Later, where is the land for people for living? he questioned. The people of the district have same opinion about the Kasturirangan report and the government can not implement the recommendations of the report against public opinion. People from every village will come to Madikeri to submit their objection, he added.

    Committee Member Bottangady Raju said that panel should make changes in the demands submitted by the people.

    Ready to share woes

    Various political party leaders and heads of organisations would submit memorandums to the panel members who will collect opinions of people who live in the areas which come under ecologically sensitive areas. Along with Kasturirangan Varadi Virodhi Horata Samiti, Congress, BJP and JD(S) leaders, MP Pratap Simha, MLA K G Bhopaiah, Appachu Ranjan, Zilla Panchayat President Shareen Subbaiah and many others will submit memorandums.

    Congress District President B T Pradeep said that no development work can be started in 53 villages which would come under ecologically sensitive areas. It would make life hazardous for the people. JD(S) District President V P Shashidhar said that similar protest was conducted against Kasturirangan report at Kerala and the Central government had to drop many places from the list.

    Concession should be given in Kodagu also. We will give a memorandum to the expert panel, he said.

    DH News Service

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / Madikeri, DHNS – November 27th, 2014

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    MadkeriKF22nov2014

    The High level Working Group of Western Ghats (HLWG) has identified 1,576 villages in Karnataka as Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA). Of which, 53 villages have been included in Kodagu district. Additional DC Abhiram G Shankar and DCF Manikanta have directed the officials from Forest and Revenue departments to submit the report on ESAs after conducting a survey by November 24.

    Speaking at a training for the officials on Monday, the Additional DC said that the officials should visit the identified villages and submit a report. After compiling the reports submitted by the officials, a detailed report will be sent to the State government.

    Teams have been constituted to identify natural landscapes. The district level committee will have DC and forest officials as its members, while the village level committee will have officials from revenue, forest and gram panchayat president as its members. The public and NGOs can give their representation on ESAs to the district level committee.

    The Additional DC said, if need be, the survey would be undertaken after consulting Horticulture and Agriculture departments.

    Villages
    The villages identified as ESAs are Ayyangeri, Bettathooru, Bhagamandala, Chelavara, Cherangala, Galibeedu, Hammiyala, Kalooru, Karada, Karike, Kolagadalu, Kopatti, Kundachery, Made, Melchembu, Monnangeri, Mukkodlu, Naladi, Peroor, Sampaje, Sannapolikotu, Tannimani and Yavakapady in Madikeri taluk; Aanekadu, Athoor forest, Bageri forest, Jainkalabetta, Yadavanadu, Jainkalabetta 2, Kattepura, Kumaralli, Maralli, Malambi, Mavinahalla, Mulluru, Nidta, Soorlabbu and Yadavanadu forest -2 in Somwarpet taluk and Arekeri forest-1, Arekere forest-3, Badaga, Badagarakeri, Chennayana Kote, Devamacchi forest, Devanooru Hathugattu, Teggalli, Karadigodu, Kedamullur, Kurchi, Kutta, Kuttandi, Maldare, Manchalli, Nalakeri forest, Palangala forest, Parakattageri and Badaga in Virajpet taluk.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / Madikeri – DHNS, November 11th, 2014

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    Kodagu Circle Chief Conservator of Forest Jagmohan Varma has clarified that coffee plantation in Kodagu can not be considered as deemed forest. This is based on the government’s order that plantation in private property should not be considered as deemed forest.

    Speaking to Deccan Herald, the officer said that the process of identifying deemed forest is under progress in the district, in the backdrop of the Supreme Court and State government’s order.

    It is a common notion that a land with features of forest is deemed forest. But, as per the government order dated May 15, 2014, private plantation with any number of forest will not be considered as deemed forest. Therefore, there is no reason for coffee, cardamom, pepper and rubber planters to worry about, he assured.

    Private forest

    Explaining the word ‘private forest’ as defined in the government order, the Chief Conservator of Forest said that private forest is the land comprising of more than 50 trees per hectare land and each tree with a width of more than 30 cm. “The forest department along with revenue department is collecting details about private forests in the district. A district-level meeting chaired by Deputy Commissioner Anurag Tewari too has been convened. Village level inspection will be carried out soon,” he said.

    Further, Jagmohan Varma said that the State government’s order describes a wide range of forests that exist in Kodagu, including Forest-Paisari which is considered as forest land.

    According to Coorg Land and Revenue Regulation 1899, Section 143, Sub Section (1) (F), Forest-Paisari land has been notified as forest in 1901. Therefore, the recent order too considers Forest-Paisari as forest land.

    The land that is mentioned as forest in government documents, will be considered as deemed forest. The government has given the instruction to all district administration to submit a detailed report on deemed forest in every district, within May 15.

    What is deemed forest?

    Deemed forest is the private and paisari land with forest like features. The Supreme Court while hearing Godavarman Thirumalapad case in 1995, had directed all the States to collect information about deemed forest. Following the order, the State government polled information about forest land and deemed forest.

    However, the survey was not concrete, as the deemed forest list also comprised of paisari and empty (khulla) land and details like survey number and map too was not appropriate.

    Therefore, re-survey has been taken up to prepare a comprehensive report on deemed forest in the State.
    DH News Service

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / by Shrikanth Kallammanavar / Madikeri – DHNS, November 06th, 2014

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    UnionForestsKF15nov2014
    With this, Mysore–Madikeri project has taken a step forward

    The Mysore–Madikeri railway line project has taken a step forward with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issuing clearance for the survey work between Kushalnagar and Madikeri.

    Meeting
    This was disclosed by Railway officials at the Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committee meeting here on Wednesday.

    The environmental clearance was received last week and the authorities plan to complete the survey and submit the report to the Railway Board by March 31, 2015.

    The preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey for the railway line was launched in December 2011, but was taken up only between Mysuru and Kushalnagar and the partial survey report was submitted to the Railway Board. Though the project was shelved by the Railway Board on grounds of being commercially unviable, the State government has evinced interest in the project and has agreed to take it up on a cost-sharing basis, apart from providing land to the Railways.

    The first phase of the project entails providing railway link between Mysuru and Kushalnagar at a cost of Rs. 660 crore. It will also connect Hunsur and Periyapatna.

    Interestingly, the project was included in the Railway Budget 2010–11 under the ‘socially desirable rail connectivity’.

    The first proposal for providing a rail link between Mysuru and Madikeri was mooted in 1881-82, according to the Mysore Gazetteer.

    Another project

    On the Shivamogga–Harihar railway line project, it was pointed out that the detailed survey for the new broad-gauge line had been completed. The 76-km project is expected to cost Rs. 832 crore and will be taken up on a cost-sharing basis between the Railways and the State government. Though the Railway authorities had sought 1,000 acres of land, it is yet to be acquired.

    The work can commence, provided the State government hands over adequate land to take up the work on at least a 40-km stretch, according to the officials.

    Divisional Railway Manager Rajkumar Lal, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager Anil Kumar, senior officials of different departments from the Railways, and stakeholders from various districts coming under the Mysore Railway Division were present.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Karnataka / by R. Krishna Kumar / Mysuru – November 06th, 2014

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    Cottabetta Bungalow. Tata owns seven bungalows in Coorg, and every bungalow is set amidst a 1,000 acre plantation.

    Cottabetta Bungalow. Tata owns seven bungalows in Coorg, and every bungalow is set amidst a 1,000 acre plantation.

    COTTABETTA BUNGALOW

    SOUTH KODAGU, KARNATAKA

    USP: Live the planter’s life

    There is freshness in the crisp air caressing your face. Picture-postcard greenery fills your senses. Add to it a welcome shower. There is magic in Coorg, the coffee country.

    SMELL THE BEANS At Cottabetta Bungalow. Photos: Special Arrangement

    SMELL THE BEANS At Cottabetta Bungalow. Photos: Special Arrangement

    The escape to the Tata plantation coffee trails in Coorg during the monsoon turns out to be a bonanza. After a six-hour drive from Bangalore, past the Mysore Highway, Ranganathittu bird sanctuary, bamboo forests, cinnamon trees interspersed with teak trees on which pepper vines climb to great heights, and the ubiquitous coffee plantations, we reach Tata’s bungalow in Cottabetta (meaning cold mountain).

    Tata owns seven bungalows in Coorg, and every bungalow is set amidst a 1,000 acre plantation. The three-bedroom and five-bedroom bungalows, occupied by the managers of Tata, have been converted into cottages, superior, luxury and heritage rooms and heritage suites. “The bungalows went vacant after the managers took VRS. As the butlers, cooks and gardeners continued working to maintain the bungalows, our management came up with the idea of homestays,” says K.C. Poovaiah, head of Plantation Trails, Tata Coffee.

    Once occupied by British planters, the bungalows are more than 100 years old, but modified suitably for modern-day needs. Every bungalow is built on a higher elevation, overlooking the mountains and the plantations. Cottabetta is one of them. And, what a view! The majestic mountains open up — on the south is Kerala and to the North is Periyapatna, Kushal Nagar and the Madikeri hills.

    Once occupied by British planters, the bungalows are more than 100 years old, but modified suitably for modern-day needs.

    Once occupied by British planters, the bungalows are more than 100 years old, but modified suitably for modern-day needs.

    As you take in the picturesque landscape from the portico, a curved road amidst the Tithimathi forests catches your eye. “It is a part of the Mysore Road,” Poovaiah explains. “When the British planters used to drive down, they would dim and dip the headlights at this point to alert the cooks.”

    I check into one of the luxury rooms — the decoration is minimal but it has the comfort of a home. However, the bathroom is lavish with a bath tub. And, there is a beautiful balcony to sit and soak in the silence.

    Barbets, drongos, golden orioles, parakeets, red whiskered bulbuls, flower peckers and sunbirds flutter by and feast on the jamuns, guavas, chikkus, mangoes and gooseberries, the inter-crops supported by the plantations.

    Our tour of the bungalows begin with Woshulli, known for the spectacular view it offers of the Durbeen (binoculars) Road snaking through the plantations. (Vishal Bhardwaj has shot here for his new film “Saat Khoon Maaf”, starring Neil Nitin Mukesh, Priyanka Chopra and John Abraham.)

    At the manicured 25-acre, nine-hole golf course in Polibetta, it is monsoon magic again. As it buckets down, we take cover under the majestic ficus tree, watch the rain pour down in sheets and sprint back to the car.

    Then, we set off to Surgi bungalow and the plantation trail at Taneerhulla and Woshulli plantations spread across a sprawling 1,340 acres. “We get tonnes of litchis every year,” says plantation guide M.K. Umesh, pointing to the giant litchi tree (planted by the British) at the bungalow.

    Umesh peppers the trail with scary elephant stories, and we stop at intervals to touch and smell coffee beans, pepper and vanilla. The Robusta coffee bushes here are 130 years old. Back at the bungalow, biting into crisp, hot onion pakodas served by the courteous staff, sipping coffee and watching the mist-capped hills is just the perfect way to end a beautiful outing in the hills.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> Metroplus> Travel / by K. Jeshi / August 26th, 2010

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    MadikeriKF05nov2014
    Madikeri :

    Chief Minister Siddharamaiah will inaugurate the new Kodagu District Administration Complex here on Nov. 3.

    The CM will arrive from Bangalore by a helicopter and land at the Golf Ground Helipad, Madikeri at 12.25 pm, following which he will inaugurate the newly built District Administration complex constructed near the Gandhi Maidan at a cost of Rs. 14.45 crore. Several developmental programmes will be launched after which a progress review meeting will be held at 1.30 pm.

    More than 20 government offices which were functioning from the Fort premises for decades, are all set to move to the new building.

    The new structure is a 4 storeyed building (including the ground floor), featuring spacious rooms for functioning of the offices.

    The Archaeology Department had served several notices to the District Administration, asking it to evacuate the government offices from the Fort premises. But as there were no alternate arrangement, the offices continued to function from the Fort premises.

    Continued efforts by the District Administration and the people’s organisations have ultimately bore fruit with the new District Administration complex coming up at the sprawling 2.20 acre area of the central workshop at Gandhi Maidan in the town.

    Once the location for the new structure was finalised, the State government released Rs. 3 crore in 2009. The construction contract was awarded to Bangalore-based Gadiraju construction company.

    The District Administration complex, having a built up area of 90,000 sq.ft., facilitates vehicle parking and records store room in the ground floor.

    The first-floor provides for housing 22 departments apart from separate rooms for the Lok Sabha MP and District in-Charge Minister.

    The second-floor houses the Assistant Commissioner’s office and the office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

    The third-floor houses the DC office, the additional DC’s office, court hall and video conference hall.

    Lift facility: The 4-storeyed building will have a lift facility for the benefit of public.

    As students of St. Michael’s school, adjoining the District Administration complex, may find it difficult to walk freely on account of the heavy traffic density with most of the government offices all set to shift to the new complex, the authorities have taken up construction of a flyover running from the school to the Church, at a cost of about Rs. 10 lakh. MLC T. John has released Rs.10 lakh out of his Legislator’s fund for its construction.

    In order to secure the building from natural disasters, the Karnataka Housing Board has sent a proposal of Rs.256 lakh to the government for construction of retaining wall at the eastern side of the building facing the Madikeri-Mangalore highway.

    Experts feel that the construction of a retaining wall is vital from the geological point of view, for the protection of the structure from landslips, landslides etc.

    The dreams of the people of Kodagu for a new complex has finally been realised with the new building all set for inauguration by the CM on Nov.3.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / Friday, October 31st, 2014

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    Madikeri :

    The Karnataka forest department has turned down a Kerala government proposal to build a road through Kodagu forests for a smoother access to Bangalore.

    The decision was taken based on a report submitted by the Kodagu wildlife division’s deputy conservator of forests.

    It’s learnt that the Kerala chief minister had sent in a letter to his Karnataka counterpart, suggesting carving out a road through Mundrotu forests near Talacauvery in the district. In the letter, Oommen Chandy said the distance from Kerala’s Ezhimala in Kannur district to Bangalore through Talacauvery is 376 km, and wanted a 16km stretch from the state boundary to Talacauvery for a comfortable journey.

    Some 43km stretch of the road is in Kerala and the rest in Karnataka.

    The Kodagu wildlife division sent in a report to its headquarters, saying construction of a road through the forests was not desirable as Mundrot forests were home to many wildlife species. Of the planned 16km road, at least 8km stretch was to scythe through the reserve forest, presenting hunters and smugglers a chance to poach trees like rosewood, nandi and jackfruit, among many others.

    The Karnataka forest department nixed the proposal and communicated it to the Kerala chief minister, it’s learnt.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Bangalore> Namma Metro / TNN / October 31st, 2014

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    ‘A case of spending money to benefit contractor, bureaucracy and politicians’

    The following is the text of a talk delivered by Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkere (Retd.) at a meeting held at Kodava Samaja, Ponnampet, South Kodagu, on Tuesday, 21st Oct. 2014.

    MajGenVombatkereKF02nov2014

    by Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkere (Retd.)

    Sri S. Gopal, dignitaries on the dais, Members of Kaveri Sene and Coorg Wildlife Society, and members of the august audience, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to say a few words about the 400 KV Double Circuit (D/C) HT line connecting Mysore with Kozhikode.

    The 210-km 400 KV Double Circuit HT line connecting Mysore with Kozhikode is under construction by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL). It is said to be required to evacuate electric power generated by Kaiga Nuclear Power Station to supply North Kerala.

    PGCIL claims that of 210-km, about 92-km in Kerala’s Wayanad District and about 63-km in Mysore District is completed, and 55-km through Kodagu District remains to be constructed. This “remaining” portion in Kodagu District is being opposed by the people of Kodagu, spearheaded by Kaveri Sene and Coorg Wildlife Society on grounds of environmental destruction that will adversely affect the Kaveri watershed which is the source of life-giving water to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

    Also it will ruin coffee plantations due to tree-felling and intensify the human-animal conflict especially related to elephants, which is already claiming human lives in Kodagu. The objections of the Kodava people to this project are not new, but are several years old. I will speak on this issue and ask some questions concerning technical, environmental and governance matters.

    Technical questions

    Let us first examine whether this 400KV HT line is at all required. As on date, there are seven HT lines supplying power to Kerala, five from Tamil Nadu and two from Karnataka. These seven lines have a total capacity of 3,000 MW while the share of Kerala from the national grid is only 1,000 MW. Further, although the energy share of Kerala from the national grid is 9,350 Million Units (MU), Kerala is drawing about 11,350 MU from the existing seven HT lines. This shows that the existing seven HT lines are more than adequate for Kerala’s power needs from the national grid, and the proposed 400KV D/C HT line is not at all required.

    Thus the question arises as to why PGCIL has constructed 155-km when the project is not necessary and also when the 55-km segment within Kodagu District is facing objections from the people of Kodagu. The environmental and social costs of the project have obviously not been taken into account.

    Karnataka State officials have deposed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), stating that the objections of Gram Sabhas are “belated,” “motivated” and are an “after-thought.” These statements are uncalled for, and show the dismissive attitude of officials towards simple people. The objections may be “belated” because village people did not get to know about the PGCIL project earlier. And if the village people are “motivated” in objecting to the project, their motivation is in preserving the environment which is a vital watershed for South India, saving their own coffee plantations which are their livelihood, and trying to mitigate the growing human-elephant conflicts. Thus, the question arises as to why our own officials have this attitude towards projects.

    The 90-paise “disease”

    The fact is that even though all officials are not corrupt, many officials are interested in getting large projects sanctioned and executed because a good portion of every rupee of public money spent does not go towards the project work but gets diverted into private pockets. When Rajiv Gandhi was the PM, he had estimated that 80-paise in the rupee went astray. Now, decades later 90-paise, possibly more, would be seen vanishing if an honest, transparent audit were to be made. When a project is estimated at Rs. X crores, X-crore 90-paise portions vanish. Some people indelicately refer to such standard practice as corruption. But if at least the project was a genuine requirement and was executed with quality and in time, one could still wink at the corrup… oops, sorry, the vanishing 90-paise. And this 400KV HT line is an unnecessary project as has been shown earlier.

    Environment and Governance

    The felling of trees in forest areas and in coffee plantations is harmful to the environment. PGCIL argues that felling a “mere” few thousand trees may not harm the environment. But this argument fails to address the cumulative effect of felling trees for different projects of roads, HT power lines, etc., in the Western Ghats which is an “eco-sensitive hot-spot” in India and even in the international context.

    The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Wildlife (MoEFW) is busy giving clearances to any and every project and weakening the Environment Protection Act. When Article 48A of the Constitution reads, “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife,” this attitude of MoEFW is condemnable.

    The cumulative effect of this deforestation, especially in special regions like the Western Ghats and in particular Kodagu, is not at all a consideration for MoEFW, in the country’s mindless rush towards industrialisation at the cost of environmental destruction.

    Kodagu District is special in two ways. One, its famed soldiers protect our country as a fundamental duty, in accordance with Article 51A(d), to defend the country. And two, its people are saving the source and vital watershed of Kaveri, and performing their fundamental constitutional duty “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife” in accordance with Article 51A(g), doing what MoEFW should be doing but is actually doing the opposite. For all this, we all need to salute the people of Kodagu.

    When the State, consisting of the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary, fails the People, the people have to resist and uphold the Constitution of India. In opposing this 400 KV Double Circuit HT line, we are performing our fundamental constitutional duty. Let us join together to do our duty!

    Jai Hind!

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Feature Articles / Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

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