Mangaluru, May 18,2016: Nethravathi Rakshana Samyukta Samithi, which held a mass rally and protest in the city on May 16, Monday opposing Yettinahole project, has now called a voluntary bandh in Dakshina Kannada district on May 19.
A meeting convened on May 17, Tuesday, with DK DC Adoor B Ibrahim, City Police Commissioner M Chandra Sekhar and Superintendent of Police Dr Sharanappa S D to convince the protesters to withdraw the proposed bandh failed miserably. The district administration failed to convince the protesters against the Yettinahole project to withdraw the proposed voluntary district bandh on May 19, Thursday.
Vijaykumar Shetty, president of the Nethravathi Rakshana Samyukta Samithi, and others, however, demanded that the chief minister convene a meeting of experts immediately to discuss the pros and cons of the project. As a result, the parties at the meeting failed to arrive at an understanding. Members unanimously declared during the meet that the bandh will be voluntary, peaceful and there will be no force on part of the samiti.
Addressing media, K. Vijaya Kumar Shetty, president of the samithi and a former MLA, said that transport bodies, including autorickshaw unions, taxi unions and bus unions, have extended support to the bandh call. He said that he was appealing to people not to disturb supply of milk, water, newspapers and movement of ambulances and other medical services. Shetty stressed that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah should fix a date for an interaction over the pros and cons of the project with the activists and experts. Why is he not coming forward? he asked.
He said that scarcity of water now has forced many hotels to close or work only partially, many hostels have to send students back home. If the city was facing water scarcity even before the project was completed, one can only imagine what would happen after the project gets activated.
The DK DC said that a ’forcible’ bandh is illegal as per the Supreme Court direction. In the recent years forcible bandh is being observed under the name of voluntary bandh. The sudden bandh call will affect students who are answering examinations. The project is being implemented by the last four governments. The DC promised to convene a meeting with the chief minister within a month if the proposed bandh is dropped.
Reacting to it, Shetty President of Nethravathi Rakshana Samyukta Samithi, said, “ Some elected representatives and higher officials are involved in making money in the name of Yettinahole project. District In-charge Minister B Ramanath Rai is supporting the project to save his chair or portfolio. The government that had promised to convene a meeting of the experts has failed to do so even after several months. The people of the district have come forward to hold voluntary bandh. We can not stop it, it is in the court of the people.”
President Shetty reiterated that B. Ramanath Rai, Minister in-charge of DK and Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology, should resign as he is the leader of the district. To a question, he said that the Samithi was not demanding the resignation of all other MLAs from Dakshina Kannada now. “It may be needed as an end action only,” he said.
M.G. Hegde, an advisor of the samithi, urged that Minister Rai should call a meeting of all MLAs, MPs and former legislators of the district to impress upon the government to drop the project.
He went on to say that the state government has no clarity on the Yettinahole project. “The Nethravathi will be in danger as the government has proposed to build eight weirs across the tributaries of the river. Although the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat and the Mangalore City Corporation have passed resolutions against the project, the government has shown least respect to them,” pointed out President Shetty.
He also said, “The DK district administration should support arrangements for the peaceful voluntary bandh. The authorities should take all essential measures to ensure that no untoward incidents occur during the bandh,” he urged.
Leaders M G Hegde, Satyajith Surathkal and Harikrishna Bantwal demanded a meeting with the chief minister before withdrawing the bandh. Satyajith Surathkal said that there is a conspiracy to tarnish the image of those who are protesting against Yettinahole project.
In response, the City Police Commissioner M Chandra Sekhar said, “Give the details of such people. We will initiate action against them.” He urged the protesters to rethink over the bandh call. The leaders should ensure that there is no breach of peace during the bandh, he added. Dr Sharanappa said that the district administration will facilitate for dialogue with the state government. However, it was made clear that no consensus was reached at the meet.