Government stops land conversion in Kodagu

Army Engineering Task Force to help in restoring severely battered roads

Bengaluru: Two weeks after devastating floods and landslides battered Kodagu district, the State Government has directed the local administration to stop all land conversion approvals with immediate effect. The decision has been conveyed to the District Administration to prevent any further unbridled growth in the hilly region.

The government’s directive comes in the wake of advice by earth scientists from Hyderabad. The scientists have conveyed to the government that landslides were triggered by high rainfall, deforestation and slope cutting.

The government plans to come out with a policy to prevent construction of buildings by flattening hilly surfaces and on paddy fields. Rules of home stays and resorts will also be tightened to prevent unchecked growth.

A high-level committee has been formed under Chief Secretary T.M. Vijaya Bhaskar. The committee will look into fully redeveloping the devastated district. A source in the government said that the government intends to develop affected areas as model villages and as model towns. Once the committee submits its report, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy will take a call on rehabilitation measures.

Army to help in rebuilding

The Indian Army’s Engineering Task Force will help the Kodagu District Administration in restoring the roads. “About 75 personnel from the Task Force will assist the district officials in restoring the critical roads of Kodagu,” State Relief Commissioner Gangaram Baderia said in a statement in Bengaluru.

The heavy rains leading to flash floods and landslips in the coffee-growing district have claimed 16 lives in 10 days from Aug. 14, Baderia said. As the intensity of rainfall in the district reduced since Sunday, about 50 Dogra Regiment soldiers, 12 Navy divers, 62 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials, Air Force officials and other State Disaster Response agencies are screening all the houses in affected areas.

“The State is working on constructing temporary structures using aluminium to house around 10,000 homeless people displaced due to the landslides,” Baderia said. District officials have been asked to identify land for long-term rehabilitation of the homeless.

Under the National Rural Employment Scheme, the district officials said they will find employment opportunities for the displaced, including involving them in clearing the debris. The district will soon have common service centres that will issue duplicate identity cards, certificates and documents, which people may have lost in the heavy rain and floods.

Special DC for Kodagu

M.K. Jagadeesh has been appointed as Special Deputy Commissioner of Kodagu District to look into rehabilitation works. He will hold the responsibility of identifying suitable land and implement the State government’s rehabilitation programmes, said Housing Minister U.T. Khader.

Khader was speaking to reporters in Madikeri yesterday. He said that suitable land will be identified in Madikeri and Somwarpet Taluks to rehabilitate            the flood victims.

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