Farmers and people who may lose land or other property to the proposed larger vented dam across the Netravati at Thumbe in Bantwal taluk have decided to stop work on the site on April 6.

Their leaders told presspersons here on Thursday that the eight-metre-high vented dam proposed upstream from the existing dam would submerge large number of farms, roads, places of worship and properties in eight villages.

Besides affecting the lives of the people in the region, it would particularly hit farmers, who had no other sources of income, said Subramanya Bhat, general secretary of the Raitha Hitarakshana Vedike. Agricultural labourers would also be hit by the proposed scheme, which would also submerge the existing dam.

Though the demand for proper assessment of losses to individuals and adequate compensation was aired in many forums, no scientific survey had been undertaken. The farmers and people had knocked on the door of every official and government functionary, from village accountant to the Chief Minister to the Governor, to no avail, Mr. Bhat said.

Officials and political leaders visiting the areas had promised that a proper survey would be undertaken before starting work. But the Rs. 48-crore project had already been awarded to a contractor and work had already begun. District in-charge Minister J. Krishna Palemar had promised that it would taken up only after payment of compensation to those displaced.

The leaders demanded that the project be dropped if the Government was not in a position to pay compensation to the displaced. The administration could plan a couple of smaller vented dams upstream or downstream. Such a measure would replenish groundwater for the benefit of the people Bantwal taluk besides augmenting water availability to Mangalore. They also said the existing dam at Thumbe could store the quantity of water required for Mangalore.

They have sought the cooperation of all sections of society, including elected representatives. Those present at the press conference were Shahul Hamid, president of the Social Democratic Party of India's Bantwal Assembly constituency unit and its Bantwal city unit president M.N. Mohammed Mustafa.

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