Deputy speaker of Karnataka legislative assembly K Shivashankar Murthy’s decision to float a tender relating to the Nethravati river diversion project has irked anti-Nethravati diversion groups in the region.
Conservationists, green activists, fishermen, agriculturists and industrialists in the region have come down heavily on the state government, stating that the project would have an adverse impact on the coastal areas and the Western Ghats.
They said the government has been misled by the Karnataka Niravari Nigam Limited about the feasibility of the project, and claimed that it would only make the situation worse in the water-starved regions over the hills.
The project report authored by Paramashivaiah has failed to mention the economic and environmental feasibility, and also its impact on flora and fauna of the Western Ghats region, they remarked.
Activist Vijay Kumar Shetty said the diverted water is supposed to fill about 300 irrigation tanks and supply water to the industrial township of Doddaballapur, besides filling up the reservoir in Chamarajanagar. The project is also intended to rejuvenate East-bound rivers. Therefore, drinking water supply to Kolar and Chikkaballapur is the last preference, he said.
The project cannot be taken up just because there are more MLAs in the nine districts that are benefited by the river-diversion plan, he added. One should look at the over two lakh hectares of land that is being irrigated by the river. Its importance to the ecology and maintaining the salinity of the Arabian sea, and the nutrient supply to the vast marine life, apart from catering to the drinking water needs of Mangalore city, he remarked.
If the project is taken up, Mangalore will have insufficient water not for domestic purposes, but also for industrial purposes, he observed.
In case there is a major diversion of river water or large scale impoundment of sweet water, the sensitive mechanism of the sea will forever be crippled, he said. “Usually, politicians think that the river water flowing into the sea is a waste of sweet water, which could be used for domestic purposes. But... river water is important for balancing the life sustaining elements in the sea.”