Mangaluru, May 25, 2016: Dakshina Kannada district has observed yet another bundh to prevail upon the government to drop the controversial Yettina-hole Project. This bundh was total in the district and more importantly was voluntary as assured by the representatives of Netravathi Rakshana Samithi who had given a call for the bundh. Several organizations had pledged support to the bundh and in all probability, the unprecedented water crisis which the region has been facing over the past few weeks too might have prompted the people to support this bundh.
The water crisis has in a way alerted the people of the district as to what would be their fate once the Yettinahole Project was implemented with Netravathi already drying up this season. The May 19 bundh is a reminder to the Government from the people of the district to drop the Yettinahole Project that is being implemented at a mammoth cost of over Rs 12,000 crores. “This destructive project is sure to spell doom to our district,” commented one of the participants of a protest organized during the bundh.
It is nothing but a harsh irony that none of the ministers from the DK district are coming to the rescue of the people of their home district as far as Yettinahole Project is concerned. DK District in-charge Minister Ramanatha Rai had some time back said that the water crisis in the district has nothing to do with the Yettinahole Project. The minister’s remarks may be agreeable at this point of time. But State Health Minister UT Khader who represents Mangaluru (erstwhile Ullal) constituency has completely failed to echo the sentiments of people of his district when he said that there was no point in dropping the approved project at this point of time and that the government will go ahead with the project by overcoming all obstacles in its way. His comment would surely anger the people of the district, particularly the anti-Yettinahole protestors. Though he has assured to speak to the CM and Irrigation minister to convene a meeting of representatives of various organizations to allay apprehensions regarding the project, it has to be noted here that such a meeting need to be convened here in Dakshina Kannada district, where there is mighty opposition to the project.
Netravathi Rakshana Samyukta Samithi President Vijay Kumar Shetty has said the bundh of May 19 was a warning to the state government from the people of the district and that the fight would continue till the project is dropped. He also stated that the massive support which the bundh received in DK in-charge Minister’ s home constituency has made it inevitable for the minister to join the chorus against the project. He has also demanded that the ministers from the district should quit to oppose the project. “It is only when they respect public sentiments that people would elect them again,” he says
There is no doubt that this project endangering the lifeline of the district as well as disturbing the Western Ghats has been initiated by those at the helm of affairs without consulting the people of the district. “The trend of executing projects without consulting people should end,’’ says Mangaluru South MLA JR Lobo.
The general notion that the implementation of the Yettinahole Project is being done with an eye on the next elections cannot be undermined by any extent. If the project was launched days ahead of the previous Lok Sabha elections, the process of its implementation is expected to garner votes for the ruling party in the 2018 Assembly elections as the project assures water to the parched districts of the state.
That the government is going ahead with the project stating that 24 TMC of water is available to be diverted to the parched districts, experts claim that only 9 TMC water would be available. It is nothing but an irony that the government has blatantly ignored the claims of the experts.
The hope is that the government would at least now respect the views of the people of Dakshina Kannada regarding the project and decides to drop the project in the best interests of people of the region.