Many political leaders fail to turn up for the public consultation meeting
Most participants leave the venue midway
MLAS reiterate their opposition to the project
MANGALORE: Lack of interest among political leaders in discussing the merits and demerits of the Netravati diversion plan came to the fore at a public consultation meeting held here on Tuesday.
Elected representatives from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party from Dakshina Kannada were conspicuous by their absence at the meeting. Even those leaders, both political and religious, who attended the meeting, left the venue immediately after delivering their speech.
Finally, the representatives of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), which had convened the meeting, and Shree Padre, journalist and an expert on rain water harvesting, who delivered the keynote address, were the only people who were there on the dais throughout the proceedings.
The meeting had been convened by the Guruvayanakere-based Nagarika Seva Trust.
K. Somnath Nayak, president of the trust, in his introductory remarks, made it clear that the trust and its affiliated organisations were against the river diversion proposal.
If the project were to be implemented, neither the people of Dakshina Kannada nor the people of central Karnataka would get water. It was an unscientific proposal mooted by the Government, he said.
Mr. Nayak said that the elected representatives should take the lead in presenting the case properly in the State Assembly. They should suggest alternatives to the Government available to irrigate the central Karnataka districts. The NGOs and the general public will back those MLAs who opposed the project, he said. The MLAs from central Karnataka were lobbying strongly in favour of the project.
The MLAs from the undivided Dakshina Kannada were lagging behind in opposing the project strongly, he said.
Minister for Environment, Ecology, Ports and Inland Water Transport J. Krishna Palemar, who was to preside over the meeting, did not turn up.
According to Mr. Nayak, president of the trust, the date of the meeting had been fixed after consulting the Minister.
He had learnt, through media reports, that the Mayor, the Minister, and the BJP councillors in the corporation council, were away visiting a temple in Udupi district, he said.
B. Ramanatha Rai, MLA from Bantwal and president of the District Congress Committee (DCC), arrived at the meeting when it was about to get over, and left the venue immediately after addressing the gathering.
He stated that the DCC had been opposing the proposal and would continue to do so. U.T. Khader, the Congress MLA, also arrived late and left the venue, after opposing the proposal.
J. S. Noronha, State vice-president, Janata Dal (Secular), Girish Rai, president, district unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party, though prompt in arriving at the venue, left the place after their turns were over.
Religious leaders Esha Vitaladasa Swamji, seer of Sandeepani Sadhanashrama, Kemar, and John Fernandes, professor and Head, chair in Christianity, Mangalore University, who opposed the project, did not sit throughout the proceedings.