Part of road caves in on Chamundi Hills

The damaged portion of a road on Chamundi Hills in Mysuru.   | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM

A stretch of road on Chamundi Hills leading to the Nandi statue caved in following the heavy rain that lashed Mysuru through Wednesday night and the early hours of Thursday.

As a result, vehicles and tourists have been barred from proceeding towards the Nandi statue from the viewpoint junction, and district in-charge Minister S.T. Somashekar has directed the authorities to take up the repair works on priority. However, the road to the temple has not been affected.

Public Works Minister C.C. Patil has also instructed the department engineers and officials to visit the spot and submit a technical report. Engineers have been directed to assess the ground situation and identify the other road stretches that could cave in because of the soil condition. Senior officials who visited the spot believe the soil has been saturated because of heavy rains, resulting in a portion of the road caving in.

But this is not the first time this has happened, which underlines the ecological fragility of the place. Yet, successive governments and district in-charge Ministers go overboard in announcing new “development projects” for Chamundi Hills, which is fast turning into a concrete jungle. It was only recently that the idea of a ropeway – which was long considered unviable – was revived by the Government so as to promote tourism though the project has not yet gained traction and is in the conceptual stage. Large tracts of vegetation were cleared two years ago atop the hills to pave way for a parking lot for 250 to 300 four-wheelers.

Buffer zone

Concerned citizens and NGOs such as Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) have urged the government to declare a buffer zone around Chamundi Hills and freeze new development projects that throw ecological concerns to the wind. But their pleas to reduce anthropogenic pressure on the hills have fallen on deaf years.

Apart from being a lung space for the city, which is witnessing a horizontal sprawl, Chamundi Hills is also a major watershed for Mysuru and helps in regulating the micro-climatic conditions. It helps in recharge of groundwater while the scrub forests are a hotspot of biodiversity that sustains over 150 species of butterflies in addition to more than 150 species of birds. MGP and other NGOs have fought for securing a buffer zone even as the fragile hills is witnessing relentless urbanisation at the top while new residential areas are cropping up at the foothills, destroying the ecosystem.

But none of this figures in the government’s scheme of things and a section of the MLAs some time ago sought a slew of additional facilities, including dormitories and guest houses on the hilltop, on the lines of Tirupati. But NGOs have argued that such projects are fraught with danger to the hill’s creaking environment and the proposed facilities would also be redundant as Mysuru is hardly 5 km away and it takes 15 to 20 minutes to reach the shrine from the city. None of the projects announced by elected representatives take into account the carrying capacity of the hillock and this is fraught with danger in the long run, according to the activists.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 1:39:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/part-of-road-caves-in-on-chamundi-hills/article37117916.ece

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