Karnataka stalls Kerala’s proposal to develop Thalassery- Wayanad-Mysuru rail line

Citing an adverse report from its Forest Department, the Karnataka government has stalled the ambitious proposal of the Kerala government to develop the Thalassery- Wayanad-Mysuru rail line under Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (K-Rail), a joint venture company under the Kerala Government and Ministry of Railways.

Reliable sources told The Hindu that the Karnataka government had pointed out that the ₹5,000 crore project involving the construction of a lengthy tunnel across Kabani river to save wildlife tracts of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Nagarhole National Park was not feasible.

Apart from the rich biodiversity rich corridor between Nagerhole and Bandipur National Parks being harmfully impacted , the sources said that the Karnataka Forest Department had also specified that " even if the rail line is constructed through underground tunnels , it can affect the water recharge underneath the earth, thereby causing severe ecological imbalance to the habitat system.

A government official said that it was not known whether the Karnataka Forest Department had arrived at this conclusion based on any scientific study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science, Wildlife Institute of India or any Indian Institute of Technology. However the decision would be a serious setback to the long- cherished dream of the people in north Kerala, he said.

The proposed alignment passes through the tunnel between corridor of Nagerhole and Bandipur from Pulpally Taluk of Kerala to H D Kotte Taluk of Karnataka. In Kerala, it connects Thalasseryand Panoor in Kannur district, Vilangad in Kozhikode district and Niravilpuzha, Tharuvana, Kalpetta, Meenangadi and Pulpally in Wayanad district.

"The project can become a reality only through political will and consensus reached between the two State governments. Besides, the Kerala government should take the initiate to conduct a scientific study to know the ecological impact of this huge project, " he said.

About four years ago, the K- Rail had submitted a proposal from Thalassery to Mysuru via Wayanad, Coorg districts avoiding the Nagerhole National Park. Then both the Chief Secretaries of Karnataka and Kerala agreed to the proposal in principle, but it failed to take off due to vehement protests from the people of Coorg district.

Incidentally the first Pinarayi Vijayan Ministry took interest in reviving two Nilambur–Nanjangud and Thalassery- Mysuru projects. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) also prepared a Detailed Project Report for both the projects. Then the Karnataka Forest Department did not accept the projects since both the lines were passing through Protected Forest Areas, the sources said.

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