The lopsided development of Coastal Karnataka and Malnad regions of the Uttara Kannada district is really a cause to worry. Uttara Kannada which is the central Western ghat area was deprived of many projects in the name of environment. Development of the North Karnataka (now Kitturu Karnataka) was the main causality.
Once the epicenter of the environmental agitations in Karnataka during late 70’s and early ‘80s. The Appiko movement which was inspired by the Chipko agitations had had created big impact in the history of the environmental movements of Karnataka.
The environmental movements which were initially the passion of the activists became fashion with every passing year. This reached the zenith when some so-called environmentalists began obstructing the developmental works like National Highways, train lines etc.
The development of the North Karnataka was the main causality of the actions of the environmentalists. The Hubballi- Ankola railway line which would have opened the plethora of opportunities – both in business and transportation- was affected by the so-called concern for the environment.
The railway line of which the foundation was laid by then Prime Minister was to be completed in just Rs. 300 crores. But the environmentalists approached the Supreme Court saying that it would pass through the sensitive areas of the Western ghat and the project was stayed.
Though the green tribunal and the Apex court have given green signal to the project the so call lobbies are blocking it one or the other pretext. In a span of two decades the cost of the project has gone up by 10 times which is again loss to the government exchequer.
Despite the opposition by the so-called environmentalists the project like Kaiga nuclear power station and Project Seabird were implemented by the government. Then railway minister George Fernandis did a marvelous job by realizing the dream of Konkan Railway. This all resulted in the lopsided development of the Coastal and Malnad region.
Sirsi which was known as the Makkah of the environmentalists lagged behind in the development. People of that region were deprived of the highways, railway line and other infrastructure where as Coastal area zoomed past the other regions in case of developmental work.
Today Coastal Karnataka has best quality four lane highway, ports, fishing ports, railway lines and an Airport is coming up near Ankola. This has boosted the tourism in the region which intern resulted in creation of new jobs and employment opportunities.
People from other states are migrating to this part in large number. In contrast the upshot area on the district is losing its best talents as most of the youths migrate to other places in search of jobs. This is turning the Malnad area in an old age home as youths are migrating leaving behind their parents.
Now the good sense has prevailed upon the people and the organizations in Malnad area especially in Sirsi. Recent resistance by the people locals to the environmentalists in Sirsi is the latest example of the this. Some environmental organizations and NGOs had approached the High court demanding the scrapping of Kumta -Sirsi high project which met with the opposition by pro-developmental organizations.
People of Uttara Kannada may it be Malnad or Coastal area always revered the nature and protected it. They need not require any lecture from the NGOs from Bengaluru. Our elders protected the forest and revered the nature. So, we have so much of the forest today. But we cannot live in a stone age where there is no development. We need to develop infrastructure while protecting the forest and nature, said Jagadeesh B. an activist from Karwar. This indicates how people have changed their mind in recent past.