Mangaluru, Mar 28, 2016: Government seen to be unjust in the Yettinahole water diversion and other similar projects thereby destroying the fragile eco-system of the Western Ghats and affecting life in the coast, the Netravati Rakshana Samyukta Samithi has decided to put basic water rights in the fore frount calling upon people to mass agitation and action.
The Samithi has decided to take integral multi-pronged steps to stem the water diversion projects. The first would be urging the government to set up a coastal water conservation authority through legislation and set up permanent drinking water and irrigation projects for the coastal region, activist and former bureaucrat V.V. Bhat said.
“ A dead end in in sight, the fight is now with the only alternative being the Supreme Court. It is not a matter of individual rights, the rights of all the people and protection of the eco-system is involved......we have limitations that can not be busted. If people do not support the movement, the future of the region appears to be very bleak,” an activist of the Samithi said.
Activist V V Bhat said that the proposed authority should be autonomous and consist of apart from government representatives, also experts in civil engineering, general public and representatives from local bodies of the region. Through the authority, people in the coastal region should be able to claim their rights over rivers and other bodies that meet their various needs, he added.
While the government is making every effort to implement the Yettinahole water diversion project, the Paschima Vahini project promised by public representatives for the coastal region is not even on paper Bhat rued.
An ex-professor of Applied Hydrology with National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, S.G. Mayya, who has been voicing concern over the Yettinahole project for years, said that the State government in the recent budget has clearly admitted that water was not available in Yettinahole.
The Detailed Project Report prepared for the project is just fiction, the government is dreaming about west-flowing rivers to quench the thirst of the arid regions in the central parts of the State. While people in the coastal region are not averse in sharing water, they are completely opposed to destruction of water sources by undertaking projects on the eco-sensitive Western Ghats, he further said.
Tulu Nad: People agitated by the Yettinahole project are nearing dead-end and the only alternative is to seek a river water disputes tribunal. However, a tribunal can be set up to settle inter-state disputes and government’s adamant nature to push the Yettinahole project is preempting demand for a separate state for coastal Karnataka. .
Activist M.G. Hegde said that Netravati river has mothered the entire civilisation in Dakshina Kannada and had a major role in the district becoming a business and education hub. “It shocking that businessmen, industrialists, educationists and the most of the common people are just spectators on the attempts to divert Netravati waters. If the authorities succeed in diverting Netravati, the region would become barren within a decade,” he said. He said that the first claim over river water lies with the people. “Regretting when it is too late will be of absolutely no use, do not be silent now only to regret later, rise up and do your duty to generations to come.”
Fishermen leader Ramachandra Baikampady questioned the authenticity of claim on utilisation of “excess” water flowing into the sea to feed the arid regions. “There is no question of ’excess water’ as whatever rainwater flows into the sea sustains the aquatic life, as per the design of nature. If a specified quantum of water does not enter the sea, it would directly affect the fisher folk,” he said. Further, seawater would then enter the river and could turn lands barren on the river bank. Fisher folk must act to oppose the Yettinahole water diversion project or any other project that diverts west-flowing rivers.