BENGALURU: Environmentalists say that though the state government had given an assurance in the Karnataka High Court that there was no plan for the Mysuru-Kushalnagar rail line, the Railway Board has sanctioned the much opposed 87km new railway project. Last July, Coorg Wildlife Society (CWS) had filed a PIL against the proposed line citing that it was interconnected to Thalassery-Mysuru rail project and would cause irreparable damage to the flora and fauna of Kodagu. Later, the case was dismissed by the HC but the Judge had given the option to CWS to come back in the event of the project taking off.
As per the Railway Board, the authority had accorded approval for inclusion of Mysuru (Belagola)-Kushalnagar new line project traversing 87km at a cost of Rs 1,854.62 crore. The finance directorate of the Ministry of Railways too had concurred with the new project. Coming down heavily on Mysuru MP Pratap Simha, one of the environmentalists said, “Despite opposition, the railway authorities and the MP have silently pushed the project.
We will have to take the legal route to stop this project that will sound the death knell for Kodagu. This sanction has come just before the Lok Sabha polls. Is it a political gimmick?” Col Muthanna of Coorg Wildlife Society said as per information accessed through RTI, the project will entail a 1.2km tunnel that will affect Dubare forests. He said, “This will lead to conflict, with movement of elephants being affected in this area.
We need to get more details about the project because once this line goes through, there is no guarantee that this will not expand to Madikeri and then to Kerala.”This project has been mired in controversy since it was taken up decades back. The preliminary survey held in 2011 had concluded that the route was unprofitable and so the project was shelved. Subsequently, the project was revived and one more survey was held in 2014 amid protests from citizens and environmental groups.