The Mysuru-Thalassery railway line project stands to be dropped in view of the ongoing agitation in Kodagu and other Cauvery districts in the state and its impact on the environment, if implemented. Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal is likely to make an announcement in this regard in the Parliament on Wednesday. According to Railway sources, the Minister has already written to the Kerala chief minister on the non-feasibility of the project.For the last few months, environmentalists, wildlife groups and activists from Kodagu and Bengaluru, and citizens have been up in arms against the development of the railway line and had launched several agitations.
The project would have sounded the death knell for Kodagu district, the birthplace of the Cauvery river, aggravated drinking water situation in several cities and towns and further fragmented the fragile wildlife habitat which is home to several species of animals, including tigers and elephants.On Monday, a delegation comprising office-bearers of Kodagu Ekikarna Ranga and trustees of Wildlife First – M K Chinnappa, Praveen Bhargav, former National Wildlife Board member and H N A Prasad — submitted a memorandum to the Railway Minister opposing the line through Kodagu district and appealed to him to drop the project.
They explained and submitted appropriate ecological justifications as to why the project should be scrapped. They said the project, if implemented, would have an enormous impact on the ecology, hydrology and the flora and fauna of the region and severely fragment the most important wildlife habitat in the country.The existing rail and road lines were sufficient to fulfil the needs of the people of the region, they had told the Minister. The delegation said Goyal categorically promised to them that the Railways would not implement the project.
“The Minister gave a categorical assurance and he was pretty clear about the ecological damage the rail project would have caused (if implemented). Further, he was concerned about both wildlife and water conservation and so forth. That is the assurance we got … he was very categorical and therefore, the issue rests at that point,” former National Wildlife Board member Praveen Bhargav told The New Indian Express.
Prasad, another member of the delegation, said they also met the Railway Board Chairman and apprised him of the issue. “A project, that has been in the offing since 1962, has not taken off for these very reasons as it would have been an ecological disaster. We requested them to introduce one more train between Bengaluru and Mangaluru as the existing rail link was enough. The Minister understood our concerns and said the project was neither possible nor feasible.”