MADIKERI: The next time Nanjappa Muddur, owner of a coffee estate in Kodagu, will be able to take a peaceful walk to his house in the estate will be at least six months from now. Located in Kandanakolli, Muddur’s 12 acres of land was in one of the worst-affected areas by the floods and landslides which have left behind a trail of devastation in Kodagu.
Today only around three acres of the land, purchased around 80 years back by his grandfather, remain unaffected by a massive landslide which devoured his estate.“My mother, aged around 65 years, stays in the estate and on the night of the landslide, barely managed to escape in time. We finally managed to go back on Wednesday to survey the damage and saw that 8-9 acres of the 12 acre-holding was wiped out,” he said.
The landslide, which swept away their coffee plantation, left behind a massive crater and acres of coffee plants covered with a large dump of mud. “We could see the house but could not reach it for a few days. After the sun came out, on Thursday, we were able to walk to my house to recover the property documents,” Muddur said.
To understand the scale of devastation itself is becoming impossible for several estate owners who bravely make the way back home to assess the damage. “One cannot even begin to imagine what to start with to get life back to some semblance of normalcy. There are no roads, the craters left by the landslide leave no options for bridges. It is difficult to even recognize, let alone begin to tackle the changed landscape,” he added.
Landslides, like the one at Kandanakolli, wreaked havoc on several estates in their wake. “One of them can take away around 60-70 acres or maybe more of cultivable land. It traverses 2 km and takes down everything in its path,” another estate owner in the same area said.
Faced with the unenviable task of rebuilding their estates from scratch, the biggest disappointment for these owners has been the deafening silence so far from the government, still scrambling with the distribution of relief material to those displaced by the floods.
“Till now the government has not come forward and we have no idea about compensation for us. Some of the coffee plants at my estate were more than 50 years old while all of them were at least 10 years old,” Muddur said. Even before they can start replanting, a massive effort to clear the land of the soil will have to be undertaken. “Logically, if I were to start again, I would have to replant the coffee and wait at least five years for the yield. During this time, I would have to spend `25,000 to `30,000 per acre just as regular input costs. Added to this is the cost of repairs. Without any government assistance, this would be impossible for many estate owners,” Muddur said.
To draw the government’s attention to their plight, estate owners are planning to group together and submit representations to local leaders as well as the state government so that their prayers are answered.