In Chamalapura, life is starting to imitate art

P. Sainath, the Magsaysay Award winning journalist, made the very obvious point recently in an interview on wisdom as it is perceived by the Indian media—how journalists, who are supposed to ask the tough questions, tended to bow before people in positions of power for whatever reason in a pavlovian way.

The media writes “the collector said”, “the prime minister said”, although the collector may be a bloke who came there just 15 days ago. We privilege that collector’s statement over that of a farmer who has tilled the land there for 45 years.

Be it Nandigram, Narmada, or the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise, IT or BT, that is the common refrain, where the “collected wisdom” of politicians, bureaucrats, police officers, corporate heads, and assorted authority figures, real and imagined, are vested with greater gravitas than the “collective wisdom”.

Is Chamalapura in Mysore district, where the H.D. Kumaraswamy government wants to set up a coal power project, also going that way?

***

GOVINDA K. writes: After finding that we did not have even one good photograph to show how Chamalapura looked like, a friend and I decided to go to Chamalapura and get some photos. We thought of putting up these pictures on wikipedia and also releasing it into the public domain, so that all bloggers could use it.

Last Tuesday, September 18, we asked some of our friends on how we could get to Chamalapura. We reached Gaddige road near SJCE and proceeded on it. About 20 km from Bogadi, we came upon a place called Halanahalli. We took a left deviation and travelled 5 more kilometres and reached the “border” of Chamalapura.

The place was so green and cool, we wondered how the government had termed the land as barren.

We were confused which way to reach Chamalapura. So we asked a person walking on the road “Chamalapurakke yaava kaDe hOGabEku?

That person saw us with suspicion and asked: “Neevu yaar swaamy? Nimge En aagbEku? Yaarannu oor oLikke biDakilla. Sumne galaate maaD-de vaapaas hOgi.”

We were shocked to hear these words from that villager, as usually our villagers are generally very courteous. But, as we continued to talk with that man, he told us that the people of the surrounding villages had decided not to allow any “outsiders” into the village. He also said that they would install some danger boards outside their village entrance.

As we were talking with this villager, there came two more people on a two-wheeler who looked a bit “educated”. (The first villager seemed like an illiterate, but he knew a lot about the project.)

The people on the two-wheeler asked who we were. Then he asked for our identity cards. Luckily I had carried my ID card. Then he talked with us for a while in suspicion. After some time, we convinced him that we were no way related to the government and that we too were opposed the project. Then they all became friendly and talked with us well.

We explained to him that we wanted some photographs so that we could put them on the internet. Both of them had little idea about what we were talking. We told them that putting the photos on the internet would enable people all over the globe to see it. Finally, they were convinced by us and one person gave his mobile number and told us that he would talk with other members of his village and then decide whether he can allow us. He told us to come another day.

They also told us that some English newspaper reporters had come in the morning and they too were not allowed into their village. The situation here is almost same as in the film Mathad Mathadu Mallige. In the film too, the villagers decide not to allow government officials and strangers into the village.

We returned to Mysore without the photographs but with an insight of how the rural mind is ticking, and how the “Citizens of Chamalapura” are mobilising.

Also read: SAVE MYSORE FROM CHAMALAPURA PROJECT