Mangaluru: August 31, 2015: If Kalasa-Banduri Nala project is raking up the heat in North Karnataka in the farthest corner of the state capital, the Nethravathi river diversion project is raising a similar heat in Dakshina Kannada.
The protest against the implementation of this project has reached a final stage with likeminded organizations deciding to shut down Bengaluru-Mangaluru National Highway at Uppinangady on September 15.
Dr Niranjan Rai, a doctor at Uppinangady and one of the spearheads for this agitation under the banner of ’Committee against Nethravathi river diversion (Yettinahole) project’ said: "The bandh will start at 10am and will go depending on the circumstances. We will court arrest. This is not a symbolic protest of shutting down NH for 10 minutes. We have also chalked out programmes in case the government fails to respond in a positive manner to our demand. There will be a series of agitations till our goal is achieved."
Diversion of flood water from Sakleshpur (west) to Kolar, Chikkaballapur (East), also known as Yettinahole project is the first phase of Nethravathi river diversion, has been the bone of contention for the committee.
"If the politicians had done their job of representing the people and their interest, I would have been still practising and not got onto the road. They have failed us miserably barring the exception of Belthangady MLA Vasanth Bangera, who is the only person who has raised his voice against this project. The rest have betrayed us," he said.
"Our main contention is that there is no opposition giving water to others. But at what cost? Already DK is facing a drought-like situation. They talk about smart city when they can’t even ensure a 24-hour water supply. A fortnight back, Mangaluru did not have water five days after a pipeline burst. After Nethravathi goes dry, what will they do?" he remarked.
Observing that the Western Ghats were like Himalayas to DK, he said that the district minister Ramanath Rai has failed comprehend the destruction the project will bring in the Western Ghats, thereby affecting the district.
According to the preliminary project report, the Karnataka Neeravari Nigama Limited (KNNL) has planned to draw 24.01 TMC of water to cater to the needs of the people in Tumkur, Bangalore Rural, Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts. However, in the detailed project report, the water quantity has been reduced to 22 TMC. The project, which will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 12,900 crore, will have many weirs across Nethravati river tributaries at various places in Aluvalli, Kadagaravalli, Hiradanahalli and Rakshidi in Kyanahalli gram panchayat of Sakleshpur taluk.
The Union ministry of environment and forests had approved the project in March 2013. The proposal was examined in the ministry and by the Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects in its meeting held in September 2012. The total land requirement for the project, as per the ministry’s letter to KNNL dated March 28, 2013, is approximately 1,200 hectares. Out of which, 50% of the land is forest land and the rest is agricultural. The ministry has noted that the project does not attract the provisions of EIA Notifications 2006 and its subsequent amendment 2009 as it is mentioned as a drinking water supply scheme in the project report