Makutta Reserve Forest turns a dump yard; Check-post stops only timber trucks not waste-carrying vehicles
Mysuru: Stopped by alert Police, Forest Department and active media, the neighbouring Kerala has now shifted the location to dump its medical waste and other non-degradable waste from Mysuru, Nanjangud and Gundlupet to Kodagu’s Western Ghats.
Now waste is being indiscriminately dumped inside the Makutta Reserve Forests in Kodagu and the Karnataka side of the road linking Kerala and Karnataka.
The Makutta Reserve Forest is a part of the pristine Western Ghats and comes under the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. It supports fragile biodiversity and has unique eco-sensitive aspects and brings bountiful rains to Kodagu and Kerala.
The ‘God’s Own Country’ has been illegally dumping its hazardous biomedical waste and animal waste in Kodagu, jeopardising the lives of locals and polluting the environment.
This part of the Western Ghats supports unique flora and fauna like the Indian Gaur, Sambar Deer, Porcupine, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Pangolin, Nilgiri Tahrs, Civet Cat, Asian Palm Civet, Wild Boars, Wild Dogs, Barking Deer, Nilgiri Monkeys, Langurs, Bonnet Macaque, Lion-tailed Macaque and Elephants. Good rains every year and increased greenery have brought about an encouraging rise in the population of many wild animals.
However, spoiling the natural beauty, every day, trucks come from the neighbouring State and dump waste by the sides of the road and also inside the forests. Though there is a Forest Department check-post at Makutta that borders Karnataka (Kodagu) and Kerala, the staff only concentrate on timber trucks and other smuggling vehicles and they let go of other trucks that carry tonnes of waste to Karnataka.
These trucks come mostly in the night and according to villagers, the truck drivers grease the palms of the check-post staff to dump waste inside Karnataka and return to Kerala under the cover of darkness.
Local villagers and Kodagu Rakshana Vedike District President Advocate Achchandira Pavan Pemmaiah told Star of Mysore that the dumping started on a small scale a couple of years ago with vehicles from Kerala dumping a few sacks of toxic waste.
“This has systematically grown to the extent of truckloads of waste being dumped in forest lands. The 22-km stretch from Virajpet passes through Urti forest under the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Arji, Betoli, Heggala, and Nangala to reach Kootupole in Kerala. Both sides of the road are littered with plastic waste, bio-medical waste, adult and children’s used diapers and tonnes of filled gunny bags are seen deep inside the forests also,” Pemmaiah said.
“Our Forest Department staff at the Makutta check-post do not check all vehicles and they let go of all the waste-dumping trucks. This Department’s laxity is for everyone to see. Every day they travel on the same road for duty and they are blind to plastic waste that emanates stink. The monkeys eat the waste and lie by the side of the road, suffering. If this is not a disaster, then what is,” Pemmaiah asked.
“There is a possible nexus between the Kerala truck drivers and the Forest Department staff at the Makutta check-post. The District Administration must put an end to this menace and the Forest Officers must curb the excesses on the environment. If this goes unchecked, it could lead to an outbreak of diseases. Kodagu is being used by Kerala as a dustbin,” Madan, a green activist, added.
Also, most of the trucks carrying garbage pose as fruit and vegetable trucks and misguide the officials at the check-post. Some even hide waste beneath sand. Some also use Karnataka registration vehicles so that they can easily pass through.
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