The bilateral talks held between the governments of Kerala and Karnataka here on various projects failed to yield results as Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai turned down the proposals of his counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan, citing environmental concerns.
Bommai rejected all the key infrastructure related proposals of Kerala, saying it will damage the eco-sensitive zones and wildlife sanctuaries.
Vijayan called on Bommai in the city this morning to hold discussions on various projects and issues of mutual interest, as decided at the South Zonal Council meeting.
The projects that Vijayan and Bommai discussed were Kanhangad-Kaniyoor Railway Line via Panathur, Thalasseri-Mysuru Railway Line, underground tunnel passing through Bandipura National Park and proposal to increase bus services at night in this eco-sensitive zone.
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Addressing reporters after the meeting, Bommai said, the Kerala government sought co-operation for its various railway projects including Kanhangad-Kaniyur Rail Line route, and other highway projects. The proposed Kanhangad-Kaniyur rail line project has a 40 km route in Kerala and 31 km in Karnataka.” ”However, this project is not very beneficial for Karnataka. Besides, it will pass through the rich bio-diversity and ecologically sensitive areas of the Western Ghats. So, the Kerala CM was clearly told that it was not possible for the State of Karnataka to give extended co-operation for this project.” “… the Railways had said that it will review the project if both the states agree to it. We rejected it because there is no benefit to Karnataka from this Railway Line,” he said.
Another Railway project that the state rejected was the Thalaseri-Mysuru Railway Line.
Vijayan discussed the old project of Tellicherry-Mysuru rail line route and he was told that it was not possible to give permission as the proposed rail route will traverse through Bandipur-Nagarhole National Parks and it will cause great damage to flora and fauna, Bommai said.
The Kerala CM proposed the construction of an underground rail route and even it was rejected flatly as it would damage the environment during the construction activities. Vijayan was informed that presently, two buses are operated during night through Bandipur National Highway, but he sought permission to allow four buses and that proposal was also rejected, Bommai pointed out.
He said Vijayan also told him that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has proposed a new alignment touching the NH-73. He also apprised the Karnataka chief minister that this new alignment will not pass through the eco-sensitive zones.
“We don’t know what proposal the NHAI officials are coming up with. Let the NHAI give us a proposal. However, we will not allow any project in eco-sensitive zone, be it Nagarhole or Bandipur National Park,” Bommai clarified.
However, a statement issued by the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office said that both the states will jointly request the NHAI to implement the alignments from Tholpetti to Purakattiri and Sultan Batheri to Malappuram of the Mysore Malappuram Economic Corridor project as an alternative to the NH 766, passing through the tiger reserve, where night time travel restrictions are in place.
The Pinarayi Vijayan government also stated that Bommai has agreed to examine the proposed Kanhangad-Panathur-Kaniyoor railway line project, which will connect north Kerala and south Karnataka, and also seriously consider providing the necessary financial assistance for it.