‘No scientific study behind Chamundi Hills project’

Raising concern:The Mysore Grahakara Parishat has been opposing the project atop the Chamundi Hills arguing thatthe ecosystem of the hill will be harmed.— FILE PHOTO  

Is the Chamundi Hills development project being taken up without a proper scientific study?

The answer is yes, according to the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP), which is strongly opposing the project arguing that the ecosystem of the hill will be harmed from the project.

“It is evident from what transpired in the meeting convened by the district administration to discuss the issue that the project lacked a detailed study,” felt the Parishat, whose members along with the members of Let’s Do it Mysuru attended the meeting to express their objections. The meeting was also attended by officials from various departments.

According to the Environmental Protection Act, projects in which the expenditure exceeds Rs. 50 crore or construction area is more than 20,000 sq. mt., a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required. “However, the officials at the meeting argued that an Environment Management Plan (EMP) was sufficient. We objected saying that EMP is less detailed and it would be carried out by KSPCB. KSPCB is an arm of the State government and therefore its objectivity in a project championed by the government may be questioned,” argued Bhamy V. Shenoy of MGP.

At the meeting convened by Deputy Commissioner C. Shikha, officials from the Public Works Department, Heritage, Archaeology and Forest Departments, Mysuru City Corporation, Chamundi Hills village panchayat and KSPCB participated.

On widening of the road from city centre to Mahishasura statue atop the hill, a forest official said that the Forest Department had not given permission and it was overruled by the Bengaluru office. The DC assured that no final decision had been taken on widening the road and asked PWD to come up with an another plan to reduce the use of forest land from the proposed .98 hectare, said Dr. Shenoy. “We strongly argued against the construction of the car parking building. The number of cars will increase in the future and one will need a bigger building. It was clear from the official response that they have not studied the problem from a long-term point of view,” he said. Meanwhile, the DC asked PWD to undertake a comprehensive study to find out the real need for a car park.

It may be of interest to note that during the months of Ashadha when the number of visitors to the temple is more than double, the situation is successfully managed by banning all private vehicles and using public transport only. “Why not do the same all year long and save the destruction of the environment?” he questioned.

To a question raised by the NGOs regarding the burgeoning number of shops and eateries, the village panchayat officials said that there are about 460 shops, but they have given licenses to “only 91 shops.” The DC instructed the officials that all unlicensed shops be removed forthwith, he stated in a release.

According to the Mysuru Master Plan, there should be no development within 100- metre radius of the Chamundeswari Temple. “Why has the panchayat given licenses to 91 shops?” Dr. Shenoy asked.

Heritage structure

According to the Mysuru Master Plan, the Chamundeswari Temple is a heritage building. Dr. Shenoy said there was considerable discussion on from where the 100 metres should be measured (from the centre of the temple or from its compound).

“While we were advancing arguments about how any development will affect the delicate ecology of Chamundi Hills, the officials were trying to show how they are complying with all environmental and heritage regulations,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 5:13:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/%E2%80%98No-scientific-study-behind-Chamundi-Hills-project%E2%80%99/article14407536.ece

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