Black flags, black arm bands and anger against “electoral politics” reverberated at the ‘Black Day’ protest against the Nethravati diversion project at Yettinahole staged here on Friday.

Organised by the Sahyadri Samrakshana Sanchaya, numerous persons – across political parties, environmental organisation and student bodies – gathered in front of Town Hall in a two-hour protest. M. Veerappa Moily, Union Minister for Environment and Forests, and Chikballapur MP, had announced the laying of the foundation stone for the controversial Yettinahole diversion project at his constituency on Friday. Though the function there was deferred, protesters here decided to observe a “black day”.

The project seeks to divert nearly 24 tmc of water from upstream tributaries of Nethravati and pump them towards parched areas of Chikballapur, Kolar, Tumkur.

“In the next three months, preceding the elections, we will see a lot of political gimmicks and manipulations like this. We want to show our opposition to it,” said Dinesh Holla, activist who organised the event.

The protest saw local Congress leaders — such as former MLA Vijay Kumar Shetty and AICC secretary P.V. Mohan — joining the protest along with Aam Aadmi Party, Jamaat-I-Islami Hind, Vanya Charana Balaga, Malnad Youth Association, students of Roshni Nilaya, among others.

To galvanize opposition against the project, the Sanchaya will organise a meet with fisherfolk community at Milagres Hall on February 24 to elaborate on the damage to the marine eco-system and the possibility of dwindling catch if the project is implemented, said Mr. Holla.

As a last resort, the group is also perusing the project for aspects that can be challenged in court. “Our last option will be to take it to courts and get a stay against it,” said the artist-activist.

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