If the lakes in the Bangalore-Chitradurga belt are managed properly, there will be no need for the Netravati diversion project, which is very flawed, Harish R. Bhat, a scientist with the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, said here on Wednesday.

Having studied the Detailed Project Report prepared for the project, Mr. Bhat said it appeared that the project had been conceptualised without taking the topography of the region into consideration. The project aimed at directing water against gravitational force, and made it flow towards Bangalore “by making a hole in hills, much like a making a hole in a wall”.

The flow of water in the river was not known and the Mangalore city itself faced water shortage in summer as the river dried up, he added.

Mr. Bhat said that if the thousands of lakes in and around the Bangalore-Chitradurga region were preserved and protected from pollution and damage, there would be no need for diversion of the Netravati.

He was making these remarks towards the end of his speech on the second day of a seminar organised by the Social Work Department of St. Aloysius College.

Trying to explain how illogical some conservation attempts were, Mr. Bhat said the Forest Department had once planted 70,000 saplings in a year in Kudremukh Hill range, but the next year “zero, because all the plants had died”.

'Forests destroyed'

Mr. Bhat said that natural forests were degraded and destroyed, the way iron ore mining had destroyed many forest areas, and where trees were not supposed to be planted, the authorities took up afforestation activities.

While carrying out research, Mr. Bhat said he had met shepherds of the Lambani tribe who owned thousands of sheep. Asked about wolves, the Lambani people said that their word for it was “god”, because the wolves only ate the diseased and old sheep in the flock, which left the rest of the flock healthy.

Earlier, Mr. Bhat spoke about the complex relationships that elements of nature — bacteria, insects, birds, animals, plants, human beings, the air and water — have with one another.

Showing a photograph of shola forests in the Brahmagiri in Western Ghats, Mr. Bhat said: “The survival of tigers is equal to one river.”

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