Nethravathi Balakedarara Vedike, a forum of the river users, at a meeting on Sunday opposed the government's move to divert the Nethravathi. It resolved to write to Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat and Mangalore City Corporation to pass resolutions urging the government to drop the move.
The former MLA Vijay Kumar Shetty, Janata Dal (Secular) State unit secretary M.G. Hegde, convenor of the vedike P.V. Mohan, secretary of the National Fish Workers' Forum Vasudev Boloor, and district unit president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha Rohitaksha Rai, were present.
Mr. Shetty said the vedike was an apolitical one. S.G. Mayya, professor, Department of Applied Mechanics and Hydraulics, National Institute of Technology - Karnataka, Surathkal; said the government had been trying to mislead people on the diversion proposed.
In the agriculture budget for 2011-12, the government had mentioned that it had reserved Rs. 200 crore for “making water available” to parched districts from the Yettinahole canal. The government had masked the name of the Nethravathi by calling it Yettinahole. People unfamiliar with the Western Ghats would not know that Yettinahole was a major tributary of the Nethravathi.
Sundar Rao, a social activist from Bantwal, said the government's plan was to draw water from Yettinahole canal even before it flowed through Dharmasthala as the Nethravathi.
Mr. Mayya said it was of utmost importance to question the notions of excess water in a river and that this water “flows into sea during the monsoon”. Excess water can only be quantified when the amount of water required for needs of the people dependent on the river was calculated. He said that 80 per cent of water in a river flowed through during the monsoon. Thereafter the flow was reduced.
Not even a single study had been done on the water usage of a river since Independence, he said.
Mr. Mayya cautioned that all rivers should have a minimum amount of water flowing through them. Otherwise, it would not be able to sustain the environment around the river.
He said the present project had its roots in the idea of retired engineer G. Paramasivaiah. Studying the proposal he had made, Mr. Mayya alleged that it appeared that “Paramasivaiah himself did not have a clear idea about the project”. First, it was a drinking water project which later turned into an irrigation project before finally being called a project for “integrated development”, Mr. Mayya said. It was not clear how much water would be diverted to Kolar district under the project and how. Mr. Boloor said that the flow of river water to sea benefited fishermen in three ways. The force of the flow during the monsoon naturally cleared the river of sand deposits.
More importantly, fish came close to the mouth of the river during the monsoon both to breed as the temperature of the water was warm and also because it brought food for the fish. Social activist Rita Noronha spoke.