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Is Netravati diversion the only way out, ask experts

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RAIN-FED: The Netravati reaches its brim only during the four months of the monsoon.
RAIN-FED: The Netravati reaches its brim only during the four months of the monsoon.

Sudipto Mondal

Rainwater harvesting has been successful in Rajasthan, says expert

‘Fisheries, agriculture in coastal Karnataka will be adversely affected by the move’

Legislation sought to stop non-forest activity in Western Ghats

MANGALORE: Even as environmentalists cry foul over the proposal to divert Netravati River, the question that arises is whether there is no other way to provide succour to the parched districts of south-central Karnataka? What is it that sets the semi-arid districts such as Kolar and Chitradurga apart from the scorched plains of Rajasthan, where rainwater harvesting has seen major success?

The Nanduli River in Jaipur district of Rajasthan virtually disappeared from the landscape by 2002 and the ground water levels plummeted, leading to a mass-migration of the population there. A local non-governmental organisation (NGO) named ‘Sambhav’ entered this dismal scene in 2002 and started a project to rejuvenate the extinct river, and wells in the region. They turned things around in just five years and today, the Nanduli flows throughout the year there.

Citing this example, rainwater harvesting expert and conservationist Shree Padre said that Jaipur received much less annual average rainfall compared to the semi-arid districts of Karnataka such as Kolar and Chitradurga.

The present Netravati diversion proposal plans to cut a diagonal canal through the many small rivulets and streams that fed the Netravati in the upper reaches of the Western Ghats.

Shree Padre pointed to the disastrous consequences of a similar project where an underground tunnel was dug between Bagur and Navile in Hassan.

S.G. Mayya, professor of Water Resources Engineering at the National Institute of Technology — Karnataka, Surathkal, said that except the four monsoon months, an acute water shortage prevailed in coastal Karnataka as well. Vasudev Boloor of the National Fish Workers Federation said that the Netravti in spate brought in several essential nutrients that sustained marine life. “Fish come to feed on these nutrients and if the river is diverted, it will have disastrous consequences on fishing,” he said. Environmentalist Niren Jain said: “People have taken notice of the word ‘diversion’, which has an end-of-the-world touch to it.”

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