Feb 14, 2018

Elephant deaths strengthen opposition to Kodagu rail

The death of five elephants mowed down by a speeding train in Assam early this week has triggered fresh alarm among activists opposed to railway line projects through Kodagu and has reinforced their resolve to stall it.

They now fear that the railway project could only escalate the conflict situation that is already high in the district and the chilling spectre of elephants being mowed down by trains would come to haunt the region as well.

At present, Kodagu is one of the few districts in the State which remains unconnected by a railway track though efforts are on to push two tracks – one connecting Madikeri with Mysuru and the other the extension of the link to connect it with Thalassery in Kerala.
While votaries of development and connectivity in both the States are drumming up support, there is growing dismay and concern about the projects in Kodagu itself where the local community is concerned about the ecological implications.

“From the wildlife conservation point of view, the railway line project will be nothing short of disaster for elephants as Kodagu district harbours not less than 500 to 800 of these animals. And we are not including elephants inside Nagarahole – a large portion of which is in Kodagu,” said a wildlife activist. “The Assam tragedy should serve as a wake up call for conservationists,” he added.

The 2012 elephant census results indicated that Madikeri Territorial Division harboured not less than 273 elephants while the Madikeri Wildlife Division had about 192 elephants. Virajpet had 65 elephants.

Col. C.P. Muthanna of Coorg Wildlife Society pointed out that in Kodagu, there is a sizeable elephant population in coffee estates and being contiguous to forests, the herds tend to be on the move from one place to another. Once the railway project is through, it will destroy the migratory corridors and leave the herds stranded which will only escalate the conflict situation. “It will be a tragedy for both elephants and the local people,” he added.

Proposed rally

Some of these aspects will be highlighted during the proposed rally to be held in Mysuru on February 18. The rally will be part of the Save Kodagu and Save Cauvery campaign to oppose ecologically destructive projects that are being pushed through without taking the local community’s views into consideration.

The rally will be held from 10 a.m. at the J.K. Grounds opposite the Railway Station and participants will walk along the main thoroughfares of the city in a procession to drum up opposition. “It is not about environmentalists or the greens. This is a people movement as it affects us all,” Mr. Muthanna said.
Source-The Hindu

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