How impractical the Railway line between Mysuru & Thalssery will be?

How impractical the Railway line between Mysuru & Thalssery will be?

Now that the Karnataka election drama, with its horse trading & finally reservation quota candidate winning the highest post and stuck in cabinet jugging, we can wonder to more pressing things: what is the future of Thalssery-Mysuru railway line. Though previously it is claimed that ‘in principle’ the State government is not in favour of the project, their past action casts shadow on it.

In the Middle East, there is a popular sandwich called Mushakal… combination of fried potato, brinjal & falafel with little salad in shamoon or kubz. In Kuwait for the last 60 years, the price remains unchanged at 100 fils (one tenth of a dinar), thanks to government subsidy for the basic kubz & shamoon. Also in the last 40 or so years, I have not been able to discern any changes in the tast. Similarly, I am unable to taste out the future ideology of the Karnataka government… ‘makki ka makki’ or what is brewing? Is it going to be pushed in to quandary because every post in Kodagu sits in the hands of the opposition?

February 18, 2018 witnessed two important things in Mysuru city regarding railways. The first was a large scale protest march organized by “Kodagu against railway” at the Karnataka exhibition ground opposite to the Mysuru Palace, in which I had the privilege of participating personally. Though it was planned earlier, it coincided with the second important thing: the arrival of our charismatic PM, Narendra Modi to inaugurate/commission 140-km fully-electrified Bengaluru-Mysuru rail track & flag off the Humsafar Express between Mysuru-Udaipur in Rajastan. Both were deemed equally important to the city in different way.

The protest was not against the railway in general, our beef was against the proposed railway line between the Thalssery-Mysuru. As well as any other anti-environment and myopic projects proposed or brewing at the Vidhana Soudha.

What made this rally very unique is the fact that it is not attached to any political party but was people driven, like one of the speakers mentioned, by the children of Kaveri!! It was by the Army of Mother Kaveri which does not have any caste or creed but the humanity which cares to save & protect the welfare of future for the future generation.

It is a movement started by a retired Colonel & Coorg wildlife society President, Cheppudira P. Muthanna gathered momentum because of the significance attached to it. Formed in 1980, Coorg Wildlife Society is a registered charity with the motto “Pledge to Protect”. Someone who once guarded the country & was ready to lay down his life for the nation, is now fighting to save the Mother of his birth place.

This is a cause which has touched the emotions of everyone in Kodagu. The number of participants were accounted somewhere between 16,750 to 17 thousand mostly clad in black or black band on their left sleeves from as young as a toddler to as old as 90 years. People from the length & breadth of Kodagu had made it to the protest. The participants included: Hotel owners association (who also arranged for food & beverages to the participants free of cost), students from different schools in Mysuru (who rendered their emotional slogans), Gowda Samaja, Amma Kodava Samaja, Kodagu Muslim association, Heggade Samaja, Cauvery education society, Cauvery Mahila Sanga, Kerala Hindu association, aborigines of Kodagu. & last but not the least Kodava Samajas from Kutta to Madikeri to Bengaluru were present. This coming together of everyone clearly denotes the sentiments of each & everyone in Kodagu.

70 buses came from Kodagu & scores of private vehicles from all around. 50 to 60 Java bikes (once produced in Mysuru city) with riders clad in black joined the march. What makes this protest unique is the fact that except for the few traffic police who were controlling the public traffic, there were none to control the peaceful protest march where everyone was in their best exemplary behavior. In a state where half a dozen people marching is accompanied by equal number of police in front, behind & the middle, this kind of peaceful march conveys a good will message. They are telling it’s not the so called development we are against but the damage it could cause in this particular case. I whole heartedly respect both the organizers as well as the participants.

If there is will there is always a way!

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So why are we protesting?

It’s simply because they have lost the faith in the politicians as a whole. Going back to the previous incident which prompted this action by general public which took their grievances with the Mysuru-Kozhikode high tensions 400 KV power project to both ruling & opposition parties. Everyone had given the assurance that it would not happen, but one fine day after SEVEN-years, they arrived armed with the equipment to spearheading the destruction of forest (with approval from the central government), which saw the felling of 60,000 trees. While protested, they had the audacity of cutting the trees while the district slept. What could this action be called if not ignorance, stupidity or utter greed?

In order to get support from the ignorant farmers & planters, the same breed of politician are spreading the silly false rumours that the train coming will increase the coffee price & decrease the manure price, etc.,  & playing with the psyche of the people. How illogical one could stretch? False news doesn’t need much wings to fly too.

Though the district elected MP Mr. Pratap Simha assured at the protestors meet that the project will not go forward & similar ideas projected by lawyer Mr. Brejesh Kalappa. Only time can tell us what the reality is!! He went one step further, pro bono.. to have a march from Bengaluru to Kodagu to get attention!! Well, I wonder if it would penetrate or make a difference in the political brain cells. In between the snore they might think it’s just a dream…

Kodagu always has nourished, nurtured & nursed its natural resourses, over time respecting the mother nature & has tried to maintain the rivers & trees until the power & paisa hungry politicians started selling timber to the like-minded mafia resulting in the loss of green cover & diminishing rainfall. This has resulted in the vanishing of many unique flora & fauna endemic to Kodagu, in front of my own eyes. Kodagu is one of the major coffee producer in the country. So somehow, somewhere every coffee drinker in India must have had the privilege of tasting Kodagu coffee. The rest is produced in Kerala & Tamil Nadu.

Interestingly a team from Kannur, Kerala lead by Mr. Neelakantan & Mr. Manoj, holding the placard in Malayalam had participated in the protest too. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Neelakantan mentioned that how the new airport at Kannur had forced the snakes from its habitat to people’s homes which forced them to live in constant fear with it.

People of Kodagu are already facing this problem from the giants of animal kingdom & felling the trees & dwindling forests could make it worst. My own first cousin’s wife was marauded by a rogue elephant in 2015.

Beautiful Kodagu is part of the Western Ghats (aka Sahyadri meaning The Benevolent Mountains) which is estimated to be formed about 150 to 200 million years ago that makes it older than the Great Himalayan Mountain. These Ghats are not true mountains but are the faulted edge of the Deccan plateau, supposed to have formed during the break-up of the super continent of Gondawana with volcanic upthrusts. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site & is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world in terms of their significance. Unfortunately the politicians, who want to quick aggrandization of wealth, are blinded like the horses.

The revered River Kaveri is born in these hills & joined by small & little tributaries, gathering momentum flows through south & east of Karnataka & Tamil Nadu, across the Deccan Plateau through the South Eastern lowland emptying into Bay of Bengal. She is popularly known as the Jeeva-nadi (life giving river) & even supplies 40% of drinking water to the silicon city of India Bangalore. Mysuru & Mandya district once known as the sugar bowl of Karnataka thrives on her.

After Cape Town’s drastic water crisis, the next predicted metropolis is none other than our own Bengaluru!! With ever mushrooming population & ill planned infrastructure, Bengaluru is already reeling under the shortage of water. How far or further it can be pushed?

Mysore is the crown of Karnataka & Kodagu is the precious pearl in that crown. Since three years the state is witnessing signs of famine & the rain fall has reduced drastically. There is a say in Kannada: “Kodagige male Mysureige kale” (when rain falls in Kodagu, Mysore shines), Kodagu is the prime catchment area for river Kaveri & contributes over 70% of the total inflow into KRS. No forest no rain… It’s not a rocket science & anyone with little COMMON SENSE would know that. Can anyone survive without water for a day? Good sleep, good health & peace come from healthy environment. A tree can be destroyed in a minute but to grow it takes more than 30 years & even to plant are they equipped or intelligent enough to identify the native plants which had evolved with the evolution.

One very important noteworthy aspect of the adversity the River Kaveri already facing. Due to shortage of rain & flow the river actually does not reach its final destination, the Bay of Bengal. It’s ironic that unlike the Yellow river, the Chinese River of Sorrow which does not meet the ocean due to heavy silt deposit, here Kaveri does not reach due to shortage of water. As a result at Poompuhar, the sea water is entering the river turning it saline & rendering the land unfit for cultivation. Does one need more explanation on this disaster? How long are we going to use, misuse or abuse the rivers & forests of our beloved country for personal gains? Our politicians badly in need of good purging!

So do Kodagu really need the rail line?

As voiced by thousands from every walk of life, it doubly spells a big “NO”. When there is alternate route which could be done spending less money & causing destruction, why are the politicians really pushing it? Even the metro man Mr. E. Sridharan sees the line via Nanjangud, which is also shorter in distance is more viable/asible than the Kodagu. Even Mr. Kasturi Rangan’s Report on Western Ghats is pushed under the carpet too. What is the ulterior motive behind that is a zillion dollar question only the particular politician could answer?

So why it is so important to state government to have the line? Only the politicians (ex CM Siddaramiah in particular) have the answer… Out of the blue, the project was first proposed during the 2012-13 budgets, under the guise of aiding the tourism industry. Kodagu is already over burdened with tourism. When the very land is going dry -with it agriculture+flora+fauna, excess water is also used by the big resorts causing woes to innocent poor farmers. If there is no drinking water how the hell is the tourism industry going to survive? It is not wrong to be ignorant but definitely it is an error to continue to be ignorant, that too when one have taken the responsibility of the welfare of the state.

Progress means Money for some, agenda for some but this is spelling disaster for the future of the entire state. As a common person, the way I see it it’s purely the vested interest of the politicians either for personal gains or personal likes/dislikes. It’s very difficult to understand what changes between hands & minds!! Is there some kind of underhand understanding between the governments of Kerala & Karnataka for this project, which is beyond common man’s understanding?

Elephant are entering human territory more often than before & death are common. A glimpse to how do the bureaucracy in the state works? Sometime around 2012, one fine day a tusker chose to die in my cousin’s coffee estate near Maldare. My cousin’s husband is a retired army officer & dutifully informed the police & forest department. They were told not to go near or touch the elephant. After two days, when the carcass was already spreading its presence to far & wide, the team of five did arrive. After circling around & discussions, they concluded that it was a natural death!! Thankfully an honest army man, who is now wheel chair bound did not appear like an assassin to them. So what do they do next? Coolly bring out the equipment & saw the tusks & load it to their jeep & move on. Of course there was no room for the carcass among them in the vehicle. Poor family had to spend from their own pocket & arrange for the burial of the rotting body!!

Karnataka seems to be religiously following California, the IT capital of the Universe in every respect. The days are not far away for debt burden insolvency, water crisis & fall in food production!! According to Indian Express, Karnataka’s so called fiscal Bhagya budget swelled debt burden to Rs.2.86 lakh crore. Politicians seem to be turning into magicians & popping out loans from every direction.

Sometimes sadly & unwittingly even the scholars indirectly support unworthy causes dues to exposure to worldly ignorance. My late father, an educationist himself used to say: Education (formal process – from books) & Knowledge (informal real life experience) are two different aspects. As a conclusion, I would also like to add statements (and a video) by the so called doctorate holder, a award winning journalist & an industrialist. One doctor, a Phd holder Mr. Khader whose video is floating around, a brand ambassador & promoter of sridhanya –millets, blaming the coffee plantation for lessening the rain & little does he knows that the increase in the canapé seen from satellite or the fancy helicopter ride surveying Western Ghats are in fact the trees in the coffee estates? Rest the forest & bamboo bushes are practically vanishing by timber selling by the government! Where was he hibernating when the 50,000 trees were fell? Where is his voice with the proposed project which could result in the felling of lakhs of trees?

One of the speakers Ms. Devika also mentioned about the famed Ms. Majumdhar who said in a seminar that if the trees are planted upto one kilometer radius around the river banks should be sufficient to get enough rains. Hence any development should not be held back. May be she should try to experiment it around Poompuhar! Wonder which school she went to? No wonder the innocent farmers & general public believes the politician’s false promises… very sad… sad indeed.

While at river & water crisis I would also like to bring to picture the other hurdles the river & forests of Kodagu is facing. It’s the sand mafia & the forest fires.

“It’s strange but true that rivers/oceans, forests, hills/mountain & rain has a symbiotic relationships. Their affairs has been synchronized for eon by the creator thy self & one cannot exist without the other & all the living beings cannot exist without water. The only one who could try to make the foolish attempt to disrupt it is the self proclaimed crowning glory of creation, the man himself.” Sadly, Man is the only intelligent being who can cut the tree, make paper out of it & later write on it save the trees.

The concurrent famines have a common, disturbing theme. They are man-made, precipitated by conflicts & perpetuated by political jockeying. Abdul Kalam, one of the finest human beings said: you cannot change your future, but you can change your habits, & surely your habits will change your future.

Sand is to rivers, what soil is to land. Sand is very important to river & plays the same role as soil on land. It is the essential element of the eco system. It plays the role of filtration, regulates the water flow & slows the flow of river which helps in recharging the ground water. It percolates & acts as store house of water & once it is sucked enough, then the water flows further.

While growing up, during the summer holidays we spent lot of time on the River bank. Water was less but still plenty flowing, clean & cold flowing from the hills. We would soak our feet in the water & when the tiny fish came to eat the dead skin of the feet, tickling us in the process, we would burst out laughing. Pulling the feet out & soaking again was a silly yet fun game we played. (Now I have to pay money to do that!) We would dig the sand with our hand or empty coconut shell & when slowly the water collected in it, we would catch some fish & put in it. Our own self created aquarium….. we were taught to leave it back eventually.

Sand mafia, hand in gloves with the greedy officials has put so much strain on the rivers that the sand is nowhere to be seen. The story of how the sand reaches the black market passing dirty cash from village politics to police to every nincompoop told by smuggling assistant was pathetic.

Sand banks, sand islands, it harbors hugh amount of beneficial organisms  including crustacean & aquatic animals which spend their entire life on sand like crab, Ottars (neer naie), turtles, birds, crocodiles, etc. Due to absence of sand most of these have practically vanishing… rather vanished.

In the fabric of creation every being including trees are created for a reason, has a role to play & a place & time is allotted to them, which is beyond our understanding capacity. For example the insects… how many people really understand the importance of them?

Albert Einstein said, if the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live…  Then there are the dung beetles often considered grimy, which perhaps even goes unnoticed by most of the people that really play a pivotal role in the renewal of the ecosystem (particularly in the forest & fertility of the land through improving nutrient cycling, soil structure, seed dispersal, etc). It practically plants the seedling. With diminishing cattle & wild animals, along with the forests, they have almost disappeared too…

Last but not the least, Forest fire has become a menace… I never saw so many forest fires in Kodagu before. While growing up somewhere if you see smoke may be once in a year or two, my parents would say seems like forest fire & would worry. I could never understand the worry in their mind… but now its so very common.. if you travel via Thithimati forest or even via Kushalnagar, burnt out forest is a common site.

Forest fires in Kodagu are happening for different silly reasons… Many a times its accidental fire, out of ignorance which might end up in dangerous wild fires. Drunkards or wayward for fun, carelessly thrown undoused cigarette butts, abandoned cooking fire by some tourists, or people who collect firewood instigate such fires to get access, often while traveling I have witness the abandoned controlled-fires… when such ignorant fires leave the ground to crown, it could end up with dangerous situations. The searing heat contributed by reduction in monsoon as well as ground water & dry vegetation has combined to fuel the fire. Above all there are very limited resources to contain the fires too.

Well, since man is unable to control his population & growth, he has managed to turn Mother Earth almost infertile with chemical based fertilizers, GM seeds, cloning, artificial food, etc., etc. like any other mother, this Super Mother has been giving & giving, tolerating everyone.

Swami Dayaanda Saraswathi said: the earth should not be taken for granted. You have no right to abuse it & you can’t disuse it. Make sure that you are a contributor, not merely a consumer… There is one thing humans have to remember always. We are dependent on her & she is not. She can always revitalize herself. The clock is ticking… Here on Earth, Mother Nature is the boss & she is the one dictates terms. We have stretching her too hard & her patience are running out… other than humans, the entire creation goes according to her laws & design.

One final hope perhaps to Karnataka/India/world is the latest discovery, the locked up water from ringwoodite…. Never heard of it? No issues it’s just like the God particles….! Only politicians can get it… they have to be packed along with their black moneys & cronies to bring it.

Insatiable greed could motivate Man to push the rock on his own feet..

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