An ascetic''s green enterprise The hilly slopes of Kappatagudda have regained their green glory owing to the eco-friendly efforts of Shivakumarswamiji of Nandiveri Peetha, writes Raghottama Koppar.
Some decades ago, Kappatagudda was teeming with life with its flora and fauna comprising a good number of rare medicinal plants. It was also home to a number of rare birds. In fact, the place got its name from the large number of doves (Kapota means a dove) found in the place. Water flowed gorgeously from the ''Bhangarada Halla'' (brook) and formed lakes and reservoirs all over the spacious valley. The scenic beauty of Kappatagudda was worth a second look.
But sadly, the beautiful hills were rendered bare by the selfish motives of eco-unfriendly tramplers over the past six decades. Rains became scanty and lakes dried up. Hectic mining activities added to the problem with dust storms staining the hilly surroundings with the pigment of micro dust. Birds and animals deserted the place and underground water level receded to the depths.
It was time for a green enterprise when Shivakumarswamiji, a 46-year-old science graduate and the founder of Shivayogashrama of Bidarkundi in Bijapur district, took charge of the Nandiveri Peetha as its seventh pontiff on August 21, 2003. He dreamt of reviving the lost glory of the bare hills as there was no water in any of the wells and even the bore-wells had gone dry at the time of his peetha-grahana ceremony. He could not even get a twig of margosa to brush his teeth with!
When he resolved to clothe the hills with greenery, people termed it as improbable. Undeterred, he persisted and held meetings with people''s representatives like the members of the Gram and Zilla Panchayats, MLAs, writers and leaders of the district and forest officials. Very soon the plan was sanctioned, funds flowed and work begun.
As part of the sanctioned plan, all the water bodies were dug to their sizes, about 1000 acres of land was surrounded by a barbwire fence, nearly three lakh saplings were planted and 50,000 seeds of different trees were sown. Also, about 70,000 trenches were dug horizontally on the slopes of the hills, 11,000 ditches were made to contain the flowing water and 22,000 solder trenches were formed to let the collected water percolate through the soil.
Thus, the fast flowing water was checked and stayed at various levels to trickle into the soil. As a result, the wells and bore-wells on the hills are now brimming with water and the underground water level in the surrounding villages has swelled too.
Another purpose served by all these developmental works is the realisation among the villagers of the importance of environmental protection and water conservation programmes undertaken at the Kappat Hills. A blessing in disguise has been the temporary stoppage of mining work for reasons unknown. The widely scattered hills and the high peaks are now shining with lush greenery. The brooks have begun to flow gently. Butterflies, bees and insects are fluttering and humming notes of entrancing melody. Peacocks and peahens are back along with a host of other lovely birds. The huge quantity of grass grown in the thousand-acre premise suffices the need of cattles of the surrounding villages.
The people of the area are all praise for the swamiji whose Green Movement has flowered most vibrantly. His yeoman service of initiating wide-ranging environmental protection programmes, despite all odds, has instilled faith in the people about the fruitfulness of his mission. He has also devised novel ways of educating people to be eco-friendly by displaying a number of boards and placards bearing meaningful slogans and relevant vachanas on either side of the road leading to Kappatagudda. The place also houses many kutirs (cottagespeople can dine and rest while enjoying the serene beauty of nature.
Visitors to the place can also be sure of meeting the Swamiji on the slopes of the hills, patting his friends, the growing saplings. He fondly shows the visitors around and coaxes them to have the delicious prasadam served at the math.
The most popular saying among the people of the region is: Eppattugiriginta Kappattagiri Nodu''.