Congress members, environmentalists, and anti-Yettinahole activists have called for a “self-declared” bandh on March 3 when the foundation laying ceremony for the contentious Yettinahole diversion project had been scheduled in Chikballapur district.

Criticising the State government and Ministers of the Central government — both headed by the Congress — the Karavali Jeevanadi Nethravati Rakshana Samiti, led by former MLA Vijayakumar Shetty, said the bandh would be observed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday. The group was addressing reporters here on Wednesday.

“It is a severe injustice to the people of the district done by the people of the district…The Western Ghats and the river, which is our lifeline, is being destroyed so that some people can keep their seats…The project is being hurried so that it can be launched before the elections,” said Mr. Shetty.

He referred to M. Veerappa Moily, Minister for Environment, who is also the Chikballapur MP, as one of the politicians favourable to the project.

The controversial project seeks to divert nearly 24 tmc of water from upstream tributaries of the Nethravati near Sakleshpur – the foremost being Yettinahole – towards dry districts of Chikballapur, Kolar, Tumkur.

The former MLA said the project had been transformed from a drinking water project to a multi-purpose project that “would serve industrial estates in Bangalore Rural and Tumkur”. “They claim to have done a DPR (Detailed Project Report). But all they did was get a survey done by a private company. There is no mention of the adverse environmental effects,” he said.

P.V. Mohan, All India Congress Committee Secretary, slammed Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for reneging on repeated assurances of a discussion with the stakeholders. “When he came here, he promised us of a discussion, and when we took a delegation to Bangalore, he again promised us. This just shows the State government does not care about the region,” he said.

Similarly, M.G. Hegde said numerous mass protests by students, environmentalists, religious leaders, Tulu cultural activists, academicians had been ignored by successive governments.

While the group said the bandh won’t be forced upon citizens, they claimed to have received support from autorickshaw unions, bus unions, hotel owners, and were in talks with political parties to extend support.

They even threatened to resort to “other measures” if the government still went ahead with the project, and would give Mr. Moily an “earful” when he came to the district on March 4.

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