In a rare show of unity, politicians in Kodagu have made a common cause with local residents in opposing three mini hydro-electric projects.
It is a matter of regret that the newly appointed district in-charge minister Ramachandre Gowda should have spoken in favour of the projects.
Mr Gowda, a senior BJP leader from Bangalore, has made a name for himself for championing the causes of the people. He has been quoted as saying that the projects would not cause much damage as they were mini power projects.
Probably, he has been misled on the need for setting up such projects by those who have bagged the contract for executing the projects.
The projects are proposed to come up at Irupu, Abbey Falls and Barapole. Already people have begun protests.
In a positive development, leading Kodagu politicians M.C. Nanaiah, M.M. Nanaiah, and Arun Machaiah, have opposed the projects.
They have opposed the projects on the ground that it would cause severe environmental damage, when compared to the meager quantity of power proposed to be generated.
The politicians also hinted that the projects were being taken up mainly to serve the interests of the promoters of the projects, rather than providing benefits to the local community.
Public agitations have started near Irupu with people from Srimangala, Kutta and Harihara taking out processions. Well-known environmentalist K.M. Chinnappa who also participated in the agitation, pointed out to a Supreme Court ruling which barred hydel projects near places of worship. The proposed project would definitely affect the sanctity of the Rameshwara temple at Irupu Falls.
It is time, the authorities are reminded about the environmental fragility of the Western Ghats.
Even the United Nations has commended the role played by the local people in preserving the â€œsacred forestsâ€ (Devarakadus) of Kodagu and decided to pump in funds for their preservation.
It is time, the people exposed the game plan of the contractor-politician lobby.
The government should also think of tapping alternative sources of energy, instead of going in for hydel projects.