Karnataka

Mahadayi: Centre ‘unreasonably’ delaying appoval

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Farmers’ leaders allege Karnataka’s leaders have failed to present State’s cause

Mahadayi letter

The Union government’s letter clarifying its stand on the Mahadayi issue has been criticised by farmers’ leaders and Kannada organisations for not making any new point.

“There is nothing new in the Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar’s letter. He has only stated the routine procedure followed for the approval of all eco-sensitive projects. We need not rejoice over it,’’ said Siddagouda Modagi, farmers’ leader.

According to him, the Union government is not interested in granting approval to the project and is only delaying it unreasonably, by giving invalid excuses. “Any project that is likely to affect the environment should get environment, forest and wildlife clearance. Since this is a drinking water project that does not destroy much forest area, there is no need for these clearances. But our MPs and leaders have failed to convince the Union government about this. NGOs and activists are requesting for an environment clearance for the project as it involves a public hearing. But the Union government has failed to accept our argument and has given into the Goa government and the activists,’’ he said.

“What the Union Minister has done now is that he has stated the routine procedure that needs to be followed for any eco-sensitive project. He has said the project needs to be published in the official gazette and needs certain environment clearances. That has always been the case. He has said no letter has been withdrawn. That is also true. The letter has only been kept in abeyance. But this is all an attempt at eyewash,’’ he said.

Vijay Kulkarni, leader of the Mahadayi agitation committee, said “If Parliamentarians from Goa and other leaders could influence the Union government, why can’t our leaders do the same.”

He said that since 2001, every party that came to power at the Centre was taking ‘anti- Karnataka’ steps. “Leaders of various parties who have enjoyed power have failed to think of the parched cities and villages of north Karnataka. For decades, we kept insisting that it is a drinking water project, but officials maintained it was an irrigation project. Once that was resolved, the Union government delayed its approval due to pressure from Goa. The difference is that when it comes to issues like environment, the leaders of Goa are united despite their party differences. But Karnataka leaders are divided over caste and region. That is unfortunate.’’

“It is a sugar-coated bitter pill. It is aimed at misleading the people of the State,” said Ashok Chandaragi, convenor of Kannada action committee.

He feels that the Centre’s decisions are influenced by politics. Before the bypolls, it issued a letter saying Karnataka can go ahead with the project and accepted our argument that it was a drinking water project that does not create any new command areas or rehabilitation of villages. The Centre said it agreed to our contention that it does not need any environment clearance. But after the bypolls, the Union government withdraws its approval. This is nothing but a betrayal of the faith we had kept in the Union government and its leaders, he said. He demanded that Union Ministers Pralhad Joshi and Suresh Angadi clarify their stand on this issue.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:21:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mahadayi-centre-unreasonably-delaying-appoval/article30395530.ece

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