Mangalore, Aug 16, 2014: Addressing the agitated crowd gathered not far from the spot where elected representatives and general public participated in the official 68th Independence Day celebration organised by the district administration at Nehru Maidan on August 15, Sahyadri Samrakshana Sanchaya Convener Dinesh Holla flayed the elected representatives of the district of cheating the people.
“MP Nalin Kumar Kateel who had promised of stopping the project before the election, is now silent on the issue and so is the district-incharge minister,” he said.
Holla said that the third and final representation will be submitted to the elected representatives and the government, bearing signatures of over 25 like-minded organisations.
The protesters will set a deadline of October 2 for the government to announce that the project is dropped. “We will intensify our fight and urge the resignation of elected representatives from our district if they fail to respond before the deadline. We will go into streets and block the roads,” he warned.
Educationist M G Hegde questioned the government for not convening a public meeting to discuss about the project, as promised.
Rai bats promises action : Speaking to reporters about the project on the sidelines of Independence Day programme, District-in-Charge Minister B Ramanath Rai said he will ensure that Nethravathi River Diversion project is not implemented. “When eight districts are demanding for the project, Dakshina Kannada is the only district to oppose it. We will speak to the government to find an alternative project like Pashchima Vahini, for supplying water to the parched areas,” he said.
People from various organisations had assembled at Mahatma Gandhi Park in front of Town Hall, to extend their support to the protest staged by Sahyadri Samrakshana Sanchaya opposing Nethravathi River Diversion project in a struggle to save the river. The organisation chose to observe Independence Day as the day of snatching freedom from the people of Dakshina Kannada and the protest was staged under the slogan ‘Nethravathi Tiruvu - Swathanthrayada Kalavu’ (Stealing our freedom through Nethravathi diversion).
Members of 24 like-minded organizations and institutions took part in the protest and vowed that they would intensify the protest if the government does not stop Yettinahole project. Kateel Dinesh Pai, environment activist, said the government is gambling with environment and people. "They are planning to spend people’s money to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore to draw 24 TMC of water from Nethravati river. Our district in-charge minister B Ramanath Rai, who is also holding the ministry of forests and the chairman of biodiversity board, can stop the project if he has the political will and concern towards environment," Pai said.
Yettinahole project needs 600 hectares of land in reserve forests of Western Ghats. However, acquiring reserve forest for other purposes is violation of Forest Conservation Act. Hence, Holla said, "forest minister Ramanath Rai should put pressure on the government to stop the project."