The decades-old demand for a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus depot in Sringeri is being considered now.
The land in Shidle village, 3 km away from Sringeri town, off Sringeri-Jayapura Road has been identified for the depot.
But as it is forest land, its allotment has to be cleared by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The KSRTC has sought 2 hectares (nearly 5 acres) of land. The Ministry reportedly informed the KSRTC that only 1 hectare (2.47 acres) of land could be allotted as per the rules.
Sources in the KSRTC told The Hindu that the Ministry has now sought a fresh proposal as there would be a change in the land requirement.
Initially, the KSRTC had identified 10 acres (4.04 hectares) of land in Koppa, 29 km from Sringeri. However, this proposal was shelved because buses would have to ply empty between Sringeri and the depot, which meant wastage of fuel and other resources.
Another piece of land identified at Masige village in Sringeri taluk also was not found suitable as it was about 3 km away from the main road. The KSRTC finally chose the land off Sringeri-Jayapura Road as it is adjacent to the main road, sources said.
Sources in the ministry told The Hindu that the identified land had about 60 well-grown trees. “If we allot forest land for a bus depot today, fresh demands would be made for various other projects such as setting up a college, hospital, school etc. Our endeavour is to preserve the green cover as far as possible,” they said.
“If we are fully convinced that there is no suitable land available at all except the one that has been identified, we may consider it. We have not yet rejected the KSRTC’s application.”
Boost to economy
Sources in the KSRTC said a depot in Sringeri would not only help the corporation to improve its operations but also give a boost to the local economy.
At present, the KSRTC operates 40 services, most of which are long distance, to and from Sringeri. A depot could help increase local operations and generate employment for the rural youth, according to Shankaranayarana Bhat, a consumer rights activist at Balehonnur in Chikmagalur district. He has been fighting for the establishment of a KSRTC depot at Sringeri for several years now.
‘Can help tourism’
Sources said if the KSRTC depot was established, it could help boost tourism by way of introducing tourism circuit services in the region. The circuits could be Chikmagalur-Kalasa-Horanadu-Sringeri; Sringeri-Dharmasthala-Kukke Subramanya; Kukke Subramanya-Dharmasthala-Kollur-Thirthalli, the sources said.