Mangaluru, March 19, 2016: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s diamond studded Hublot watch row snowballed into a major controversy thanks to JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy. The CM had to finally declare the watch as a state asset. Similarly, the World Cultural Festival of Sri Ravishanker organised on the banks of Yamuna created uproar elsewhere over endangering the fragile ecosystem of the Yamuna flood plains. The NGT slapped a penalty of Rs 5 crores on AoL. But here in Karnataka we have a gigantic project costing over Rs 12,000 crores being implemented by felling trees in vast tracts of forest land and by disturbing the eco-sensitive Western Ghats. The project is also feared to affect River Netravathi, the life line of the people of Dakshina Kannada. Still, nothing much is happening as in case of the first two instances quoted here.
The state government is determined to implement the controversial Yettinahole Project by turning a deaf ear to the widespread opposition in Dakshina Kannada district, in all probability with an eye on the next elections, no matter the interests of the people of the coastal belt.
At a recent meeting of farmers and elected representatives, the Chief Minister while stating that the government is non-committal on the time bound completion of the project assured that efforts would be made to expedite it during the remaining two years of his government. Even the availability of 24 TMC feet of water at Yettinahole to be diverted to parched districts, is itself a point of debate though the government is of the firm belief that this quantity of water would be available during monsoons. The CM also declared at the meeting that a coordination committee with representatives from various departments will be constituted to cut administrative delays and speed up work on the project.
But, leaders seem to be ignorant of the fact that there are many projects in the state which took several years for completion. One standing example is that of the Varahi project which took almost 36 years. Similarly, when the Yettinahole project was first chalked out, the project estimate which was Rs 8,000 crores, later rose to Rs 12,340 crores. Just imagine the extent to which it may plunder the tax payers’ money in the years to come.
Sources reveal that the project works are underway at several places but at a slow pace. Most interesting aspect is that there has been no land acquisition for the project, nor notices have been served. The worst part of all is that the ministers from the undivided DK district and also the elected representatives have preferred to remain silent. After all, what best can they do when some of them have openly expressed their helplessness?
Amid all these developments, the Sahyadri Samrakshana Sanchaya which has been fighting against the project has been successful in creating an awareness among the people on the need to oppose the project by exercising NOTA option during the recent ZP and TP polls. The result was that 28,000 votes were polled under NOTA. In the meantime, senior Congress leader B Janardhana Poojary who has been vociferous regarding his opposition to the project has claimed that the failure of the Government to heed to the demands of the people regarding Yettinahole project has given rise to the demand for a separate statehood.
He also wanted the government to answer as to whether it was only concerned about the farmers of the upper ghat areas but not the farmers of the coastal belt. A question worth pondering at a time when reports are emerging that another round of agitation may be on the cards against the project.
We need an agitation that is capable of making each and everyone in Dakshina Kannada join the chorus against the Yettinahole Project. It is a do or die situation and hope the district would succeed in its mission to persuade the government to abandon this unfeasible project which may lead us to nowhere.