A graphic of the proposed plants, their impact on Netravathi drew sighs of shock from the audience.

The proposed mini hydel projects in the district and the Yettinahole project will be an ecological disaster and endangers the Netravathi as we know it, environmentalist and coordinator for Kudremukh Wildlife Foundation Niren Jain said.

Delivering a talk on “Securing the source of the Netravathi – the lifeline of Dakshina Kannada” at a meeting organised by Institution of Engineers, Mangalore, Mr. Jain said there was more to these projects than what had been announced.

The 27 mini-hydro projects, of which five had been commissioned, as announced by the State government were supposed to come up on less than 10 acres of land. “For this, they don’t need environmental clearance. However, what they don’t tell you is the damage to the streams owing to silt accumulation, additional space needed to dump debris during construction, and laying of pipes and transmission lines across the forest. Roads to be cut through the forest to access these hydro power stations,” he said.

A graphic of the proposed plants, their impact on Netravathi drew sighs of shock from the audience.

The Yettinahole project, which involved construction of reservoirs in the mid-level ghats across the district, would add to the destruction of the sensitive forests. “It may be a technological marvel, but it will be an ecological disaster. The forest will become fragmented and we don’t know whether the hydrological systems of water absorption and release into the river (which makes Netravathi a perennial river) will happen effectively,” he said.

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