Environmentalists in the city have questioned the wisdom of installation of streetlights on the road leading to Chamundi Hills ostensibly to facilitate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit and meet the security protocols.
The Forest Department officials have stated that they are responsible for the surrounding forests but the road per se on which the motor vehicles ply belongs to the PWD which was responsible for the ongoing works and no permission was required from the Forest Department.
When contacted a PWD engineer confirmed that the work was being taken up at the behest of the zilla panchayat officials and it was being carried out by the Chamundeshwari Electricity Corporation Ltd. (CESC).
The engineer at the site said it was unlikely that the work can cover the entire stretch given the paucity of time but they were pressing with additional material and human resources to install the poles and draw the lines besides feeding power. In all, about 150 poles are to be installed and they will sport LED lights.
Meanwhile, environmentalist in the city have questioned the authorities for hastily taking up the work as it would be a permanent source of disturbance to the local wildlife.
While the PM’s visit is a one-off affair and also tentative, the damage to the wilderness is permanent, according to environmentalists.
Shylajesh, a city-based activist who monitors the health of the water bodies and participates in bird census regularly, pointed out that by switching on the lights at night, the birds of Chamundi Hills will suffer disturbance and they could lose their orientation.
It is pertinent to note that environmentalists including a few schoolchildren had questioned the district administration on the wisdom of illuminating Chamundi Hills during Dasara as it was a source of disturbance to birds and animals living in the forests.
Tanuja, an eco-educationist and part of the team monitoring the bird population in and around Mysuru, said this project was completely avoidable by fixing the PM’s Chamundi Hills programme during day time. Harsh lights have a serious impact on the sleeping and roosting pattern of the birds besides affecting the nocturnal activities of animals, she added.
Activists said streetlights are required in urban areas and not in forests. Besides, entry to Chamundi Hills is anyway barred after 9 p.m. and hence will not serve any purpose, they added.