KARNATAKA

Neglected Kodagu crying for Government attention

There are other causes also for the sad state of affairs in the district

Jeevan Chinnappa

MADIKERI: Kodagu, nestling in the Western Ghats, is a neglected district. Elders who were witness to the amalgamation of the then Coorg into the then Mysore State say that the situation has deteriorated in recent times. Public outcry against anomalies has not had their effect in mitigating Kodagu's problems. The apathy and discrimination of the governments have irked people, more so in the last few years.

Moves to whittle down the Assembly segments from three to two, as recommended by the Delimitation Commission, is likely to cause unrest in this former Part "C'' State. People say if this happens, it will remove Kodagu from State's map. A day may come when it is integrated with any other neighbouring district, because a district meant huge financial burden on the Government.

There were representatives in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha from Kodagu when it was a Part "C'' State. Kodagu is now part of Mangalore Lok Sabha constituency. A movement started to demand a Lok Sabha seat fizzled out in the wake of the cap on increasing the number of Lok Sabha seats till 2026. Each Assembly segment should have a population of 2.35 lakhs to be called a constituency.

Population

Kodagu's population, as per the 2001 Census, is 5.45 lakhs. Some would be left out after the prescribed number is divided between two Assembly constituencies. "This is the price we pay for abiding the law and adhering to family planning norms," a senior former Minister said. The zilla panchayat grants to Kodagu are being cut every year because sanction is based on the population.

Rain

Rain plays havoc in the district every year. It was the same this year too. The district's remorse translates into happiness in some areas as the Cauvery showers bounty on them. There has been enormous loss this year. The district administration has sent a proposal to the Government seeking Rs. 29 crores for relief. A sum of Rs. 5 crores has been announced by the district in-charge Minister, R. Srinivas. Mr. Srinivas had resigned as district in-charge against the apathy of the Government in releasing relief. He is back at the job now.

Mangalore Electricity Supply Company (MESCOM) is without men and adequate material. There has been loss of poles, wires and other material. People are used to the frequent power supply failure these days.

Tree rights

The Government's rule is uniform as regards ownership of land and trees (on their own lands) of farmers, except in Kodagu. The Karnataka Land Revenue Act of 1964 has come into being here, after the Coorg Revenue Regulation of 1899 was repealed. Still, landholders do not enjoy rights over trees. Some say numerous land tenures have been done away with. Some are not sure. It is learnt that the Government will announce its decision on tree rights.

Coffee

The notion that all are coffee planters in Kodagu appears to be anathema. On the contrary, stark poverty has engulfed several groups of people. Migrant population, of course, has accounted for poor living conditions in many parts of the district. The principal inhabitants in certain remote pockets too are living in poverty.

It must be said with certainty that political bargaining by the elected representatives from the district in the Government, barring a few bright patches, has been an utter failure. Promises have turned trivial. People have been hoodwinked on several occasions. But they have not learnt a lesson.

Natural resources

What Kodagu has is its natural beauty which is compelling and bewitching. Leave alone a mini airport, rain link or industries, basic infrastructure such as roads is in a shambles. Coffee, which was touted as the lifeline of the district, is no longer a status symbol.

The same coffee has snuffed out several lives as some growers were unable to cope with the coffee crisis. Mysore, Mangalore, Bangalore, Chennai are some of the places parents look to for educating their wards. But only a few of them could afford it.

People too, perhaps, have contributed for the sad state of affairs by remaining lethargic and impervious. The laid-back attitude and the failure to respond to crises have weakened the cause of protests to seek justice. Protesters are sometimes looked at as un-civil and as savages.

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