Visionary engineer, nation-builder, scholar, statesman and Diwan of Mysore (1912-1918) describe Sir M Visvesvaraya’s colossal stature. But right in the backyard of his birthplace, Muddenahalli, at the foothills of Nandi Hills and about seven kilometres from Chikkaballapura, mindless quarrying is threatening his house and memorial. Known for supervising the construction of the famous Krishna Raj Sagar Dam near Mysuru, tourists come in hordes to pay their respects to him.
But the road leading to Muddenahalli is most unwelcoming. The entire stretch is filled with crater-type potholes due to frequent movement of heavy trucks and earthmovers plying to and from the quarry areas, carrying heavy stone slabs. And the quarry blasts are taking their toll on the structures, heritage or otherwise. The epicentre of the quarrying is a place called Kanive Narayanapura, just two kilometres from Muddenahalli. The stone blasting, using powerful dynamites to shear off the rocks, vibrate the structures in a five-Km radius, with Sir MV’s house and memorial well within that zone.
The houses closest to the quarries have already developed cracks. The agricultural fields are filled with crushed waste powder and polluted waters. Mushrooming stone crushing units at the base of the famous Nandi hills are a common sight for anyone visiting this place. “We have brought this to the attention of the authorities and the local MLA several times, but to no avail. Life has become very difficult as quarrying activity continues unabated,” says Lalitha N, president, Muddenahalli gram panchayat, who stays right under the hillocks of Kanive Narayanapura, where quarrying is the most intense.
“The licenses of these quarries were never renewed, but the activity has only intensified as several politicians and businessmen who run these quarries have the upper hand. The state government knows this, but is turning a deaf ear and remains blind to our cause,” says Narasimhamurthy, a local leader in Kanive Narayanapura. “Our crops are failing. By afternoon, the air is heavy with the quarry dust and respiratory diseases are on the rise,” says Dhananjaya, also from Kanive Narayanapura.
“The roads are very bad; the dynamite explosions during the night resonate up to five kilometres around the quarries. Even, Visvesvaraya’s grave is not spared. His house and memorial vibrate to the severity of dynamite explosions,” says Manjunath, a writer based in Chikkaballapura town. The helpless people living the neighbourhood of Sir MV’s ancestral home and memorial now see a bleak future with none coming to their aid.
And as the quarry blasts continue to rip chunks off the rock faces, a famous quote of Sir MV, involving an advice to a railway sweeper, resonates in the minds of the locals – probably a more than the dynamites: “Remember, your work may be only to sweep a railway crossing, but it is your duty to keep it so clean that no other crossing in the world is as clean as yours.”
But just how clean – or even safe – would the great man’s own home and memorial remain thanks to uncontrolled quarrying, is anybody’s guess.
Credits ET Realty