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Karnataka’s heli tourism project faces opposition by Mysuru royal family, green activists

Last month, Karnataka Tourism Minister CP Yogeeshwara had said that heli-tourism in the state will be developed starting from Mysuru soon, along with other regions in the state, including Bengaluru, Belagavi and Kalaburagi.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru |
Updated: April 21, 2021 8:22:45 am
An online campaign, launched against the axing of the trees, has so far garnered 73,841 people signatures. (Image: Change.org)

The Karnataka tourism department’s plan to launch helicopter tourism in parts of the state, beginning with Mysuru, has run into a controversy after environment activists and the royal family of Mysuru objected to the proposal to cut trees near a hotel for the project

According to activists, the Karnataka Tourism department intends to fell 150 trees of various species on four acres of land in Kurubarahalli in front of Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel. An online campaign, launched against the axing of the trees, has so far garnered 73,841 people signatures.

Meanwhile, Pramoda Devi Wadiyar, a member of the erstwhile Mysore royal family, in a letter to the Conservator of Forest, Mysuru division, has sought to draw attention to the writ petition filed by her in the High Court of Karnataka as well as the court’s verdict dated June 19, 2020, wherein, it was held that “the entire extent of Survey No 4 of Kurubarahalli in Mysuru is a private property and the land parcel in question is a part of that survey number”.

“In the light of the court’s judgment, the proposed felling of trees is unauthorised and amounts to trespassing. Thus, drop the unauthorised activity of public hearing, failing which I will be constrained to take steps to safeguard my interest and to save the trees from being felled,” Wadiyar wrote recently.

Last month, Karnataka Tourism Minister CP Yogeeshwara had said that heli-tourism in the state will be developed starting from Mysuru soon, along with other regions in the state, including Bengaluru, Belagavi and Kalaburagi.

“Helicopter tourism in Mysuru is a long-cherished dream. The departments concerned have been directed to make arrangements to develop a helicopter terminal in Mysuru. These rides will be offered at affordable costs,” Yogeeshwara said.

Environmental activist M.K. Saptha Girish, who has initiated the online petition, said, “Promoting heli-tourism by constructing a helipad next to Lalit Mahal is not viable for attracting tourists to Mysuru and bad for sustainable development. Sixty acres of land surrounding Lalit Mahal host vegetation and about 40 species of host plants, which is home to 180 species of butterflies, including the State Butterfly, the Southern Birdwing, which is the biggest butterfly in India.”

“Besides there are many other rare species like Malabar Banded Peacock, Scarce Shot Silverline, Indigo Flash, Red Flash, Common Shot Silverline, Red Helen, Lime Swallow Tail, Striped Pierrot, Western Striped Albatross, etc. In addition, this place is also the main place for the congregation of some species including the Blue Tiger, Common Crow, Albatross Butterflies as part of their annual migration from the Western Ghats to the Eastern Ghats,” he added.

Meanwhile, after objections from people and activists, the Forest department has sought public opinion and invited objections in this regard that can be filed by April 23. According to the Karnataka Tree Conservation Act case 8 (3), if more than 50 trees are to be cut, public opinion should be invited and debated, before taking a decision.

According to the forest department, the public grievances meeting will be held at the office of Deputy Conservator of Forests, Ashokapuram, Mysuru, on April 23 at 11 am.

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