PRASHAD project atop Chamundi Hills questioned

Activists say it will add to the growing pressure on the environment

The proposed development of Chamundi Hills under Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) scheme has come under flak from a section of the citizens who said this would add to the growing pressure on the environment.

The proposal for the project comes close on the heels of a movement launched to save Chamundi Hills that is gaining traction with an online petition gathering over 40,000 signatures. The movement was revived consequent to a series of landslips that led to road caving in, highlighted the growing ecological fragility of Chamundi Hills, and the imperatives of its conservation.

Though Chamundi Hills was included under the PRASHAD scheme when announced a few years ago, it did not get started and was subsequently dropped due to a faulty DPR. Hence the government submitted another plan which envisages a series of measures to embellish the temple precincts and the surroundings of Devikere, Nandi statue, relocation of kiosks, and construction of a rajagopura, apart from an interactive museum highlighting the contribution of the Wadiyars etc.

“At a time when the people of Mysuru are crying hoarse to conserve the sanctity of Chamundi Hills by protecting the green cover and clearing the concrete structures, the Government and the Tourism Department has proposed a recipe for complete concretisation of Chamundi Hills’’, said Bhamy V. Shenoy of Mysore Grahakara Parishat.

He said the focus should be on shoring up the green cover and reducing the anthropogenic pressure on Chamundi Hills which is fast turning into an urban jungle.

Chamundi Hills is an ecological entity and a watershed which feeds 12 lakes including Karanji. More concretisation on the hilltop and paving means more run-off and damage at the top besides sounding the death-knell to the water bodies, warned U.N. Ravikumar, an environmentalist advocating alternative and green technologies.

“Chamundi Hills cannot accommodate more people than its carrying capacity and such projects will only increase the anthropogenic pressure. The need of the hour is a buffer zone around Chamundi Hills but it has not been declared despite persistence from a section of the citizens since 25 years’’ he said.

However, he said buffer as a concept should emerge as a public sentiment and as a policy from the Government which should define a land use pattern that is not inimical to the local environment. “There should be a ban on any construction atop and around Chamundi Hills which is fast turning into a concrete jungle’’, said Mr. Ravikumar who has studied the ecology of the region for more than three decades.

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