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Chamundi Hills to be developed into a major pilgrim centre

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Major project: Work on developing Chamundi Hills and the Chamundeshwari Temple likely to begin soon.
Major project: Work on developing Chamundi Hills and the Chamundeshwari Temple likely to begin soon.

Special Correspondent

Government approves Rs. 13.2 crore for its development under JNNURM

Single-window agency to be formed to

streamline development

Decision on the controversial ropeway project to be taken after consulting various stakeholders

MYSORE: The Government proposes to declare the entire Chamundi Hills as a notified area and facilitate its development as a major pilgrim centre on the lines of Vaishnodevi and Tirupati.

A committee comprising officials from the departments of Tourism, Revenue and Forests and Muzurai will be constituted soon to create a single-window agency to streamline the development process in harmony with its environment.

A decision on the controversial ropeway project will also be taken after consulting various stakeholders, as there was opposition to it. This was stated by the Minister for Muzurai and Housing S.N. Krishnappa Shetty after holding a meeting with the officials here on Saturday.

The Minister said this was the first meeting held to take up comprehensive development of Chamundi Hills and its surroundings and to declare it as a notified area. The hills have not seen much development though Chamundi Hills has emerged as a popular tourist and pilgrimage centre in recent years. The existing facilities were the contributions of the Maharajas, and successive Governments had failed to improve upon it. But this Government is keen to develop the hills for the pilgrims and tourists, said the Minister.

Free meals

It has also been decided to introduce Dasoha or free meals for pilgrims on a daily basis for which the Government will take the necessary initiative, he added. The meeting was attended by the local MLA Satyanarayana, who said Chamundi Hills did not require a ropeway as it was connected with an all-weather road which provided excellent connectivity. He said the hill itself was not steep or massive to warrant a ropeway. The Minister said the development of Chamundi Hills will be taken up in accordance with its requirements, and the views of the Forest Department would be taken before taking a final decision on the ropeway and other projects.

C.H.Vijayashankar, MP, said Chamundi Hills attracted more than one lakh pilgrims a day during the peak season starting from Dasara. Hence its development should be taken up on a priority basis. He said the Government had approved a project costing Rs. 13.20 crore for the development of the hills under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Master plan approved

The master plan had been approved. It entails the construction of a walkway around the temple for the benefit of pilgrims; development of the area surrounding the Nandi statue; improvement of Devikere with fresh water inflow facility by way of rainwater harvesting; parking slots for vehicles and a full-fledged bus stand.

A proposal was mooted to set up a view point atop the Chamundi Hills near the road deviating to Nandi. This should be on the lines of the view point at Doddabetta in Ooty.

Rehabilitation

However, there was no clarity on the rehabilitation of the local vendors as the JNNURM does not have provision for relocation and rehabilitation. But the Minister said a meeting of high-level officials will be convened at Bangalore to take up the issue. The local gram panchayat representatives, who attended the meeting, urged the Minister to treat them as stakeholders and participants of development rather than make them its victims. “If the local community is displaced for the benefit of tourists, it is no development at all,” said a member of the gram panchayat who was assured by the Minister that their views would be respected and their living conditions would only improve. MLAs S.A. Ramdas and H.S. Shankarlingegowda, Tontadarya MLC and other leaders were present.

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