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Demand for diverting Netravati gets louder

Vishwa Kundapura
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Constant misery:Women struggle to collect drinking water in a village in Kolar taluk.
Constant misery:Women struggle to collect drinking water in a village in Kolar taluk.

The demand for a permanent irrigation project, which was raised more than a decade ago to quench the thirst of parched districts of central Karnataka, is gaining ground with people coming out in large numbers to press for the implementation of the report by irrigation expert G.S. Paramashivaiah.

Report

Mr. Paramashivaiah, Chief Engineer who retired from the Government of Karnataka service, had submitted a report after studying the issue of water shortage in 10 districts namely Hassan, Tumkur, Bangalore Rural, Mandya, undivided Kolar (including the present Chickballapur), Chikmagalur, Chitradurga, Davangere and Bellary.

In his report, he had suggested diversion of water from west flowing rivers to these perennially drought-hit areas through the principle of gravitational force.

According to the report, from Sakleshpur to Nangli in Kolar, at least 72 taluks would get sufficient water if water from the Netravati was diverted.

It would also increase the groundwater level. Because of the depletion in the groundwater level up to 1,200 ft in several of these districts, including Kolar, people are suffering from various diseases owing to fluoride and nitrate in water.

Mass movement

Taking into account the seriousness of the situation, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and other left-wing organisations took the lead in garnering support for the implementation of the G.S. Paramashivaiah report. The Kolar Zilla Shashwata Neeravari Horata Samiti was formed under the leadership of veteran CPI(M) leader and the former MLA G.V. Sreeram Reddy. An awareness campaign was undertaken throughout the then undivided Kolar district. A historic four-day padayatra in which about 10,000 people participated was taken to Bangalore in 2000 to put pressure on the Government to implement the G.S. Paramashivaiah report.

As a result of sustained agitations, the State Government assigned Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) to conduct a survey and submit a feasibility report. The NRSA submitted a positive report and on the basis of its recommendations, the Government invited a tender on December 4, 2011, for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR).

Confusion

In the meantime, the Government has announced Yettinahole project causing concern among the people of Kolar and Chickballapur districts.

Though the Yettinahole project was part of the G.S. Paramashivaiah report, it does not fulfil the aspirations of the people of this region, and is causing confusion, says Mr. Reddy. The project entails only 8 tmcft of water, which cannot quench the thirst of lakhs of people. Instead, implementation of the G.S. Paramashivaiah report in toto alone is the solution to the water shortage, the agitating people opine.

“It is a welcome development that people who scoffed at the agitations in demand of a permanent solution to the water woes in the region a decade ago are joining the stir on the same demand now,” Mr. Reddy told The Hindu .

Besides drinking water shortage, lack of irrigation facilities has aggravated the situation in the region forcing the people to plan yet another agitation. People in many districts, including Kolar, Chickballapur and Tumkur, staged protests on January 4 demanding serious steps to implement the G.S. Paramashivaiah report.

During the protests in Kolar, V.R. Sudarshan, MLC, called on the people to take out padayatras to Vidhana Soudha during the next legislature session.

To implement the report, political will is needed. Besides that, it is the Government's responsibility to allay fears of the people residing in coastal Karnataka as many there feel that if Netravati water is diverted, it will damage the environment.


  • At least 72 taluks will get sufficient water if the Netravati is diverted: report

  • People of Kolar and Chickballapur want implementation of Paramashivaiah report in toto


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