KARNATAKA

Samiti opposed to Barapole hydel project

MADIKERI, MARCH 17. Kodagu Anekattu Virodhi Samiti has decided to oppose any hydel project or dam across rivers in the district to protect the forests and the environment.

Speaking to presspersons here on Wednesday, the president of the samiti, Sadhu Poonacha, called upon the State Government to wake up to the consequences of hydel projects, which could spell disaster for Kodagu's environment, besides displacing people.

His comments come in the wake of a proposal to build a mini hydel power project across the Barapole at Kootiyala.

Mr. Poonacha said the samiti will oppose the interactive meeting to be held at Gonicoppa on Friday by some organisations.

He said the meeting has been called by some "self-styled leaders" at the behest of the private company behind the project. Government officials are not attending the meeting as claimed by the persons who are organising it, Mr. Poonacha said.

Such a meeting is of no consequence as all formalities have been completed to start the project, he added.

The proposed project at Donigundi across the Barapole will submerge vast tracts of forestland in south Kodagu, he said.

Another dam

Raghu Madaiah, a director of the samiti, said another dam is being constructed close to the Kerala border, whose height will be 45 metres.

The project, work on which has already been started by the Kerala Government, can destroy forestlands in the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu, he added.

The samiti will organise meetings of villagers to get their support for the cause, Mr. Poonacha said.

The commitment given by the then Mysore Government when Kodagu merged with it in 1956 that the geography of Kodagu and the livelihood of its people would be protected should be honoured by the State Government, he added.

The president of the Coorg Wildlife Society, C.P. Muthanna, said the Harangi reservoir project has wrought havoc on Kodavas.

As the project blocked the elephant corridor, the animals now raid farms, he added. A similar situation may arise at Barapole, he warned.

Mr. Muthanna noted that the Western Ghats influence the rainfall pattern. Water logging will have an adverse effect on coffee plantations.

`Project not needed'

From the environment point of view, the people of Kodagu do not need the Barapole project or others that tend to destroy the forests, he added.

Suraj of the Nagarahole Foundation and Ravi Chengappa of Cauvery Sene, who extended support to the samiti, were present.

Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the Janata Dal (Secular) State unit, K.B. Shantappa, in a press release, urged the State Government to scrap the proposed mini hydel project across the Barapole.

The project will destroy forest wealth, drastically alter the rainfall pattern and reduce water flow into rivers.

Farmers will be displaced and put to hardship owing to submergence of huge tracts of land, he added.

Mr. Shantappa said he is opposed to the move by some organisations, which have organised a meeting at Gonicoppa to discuss the issue. The Government must intervene to scrap the project to maintain law and order in the district, he added.

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