Bangalore, Jan 31: The movement against the proposed Netravati river diversion or Yettinahole project entered the capital city of Bangalore on Thursday January 30, with a protest organized Karavali Jeevanadi Netravati Samrakshana Samiti under the leadership of former MLA Vijaykumar Shetty, M G Hegde, P V Mohan, Denis D’Silva, Hussain Katipalla and others. The protest was organized near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on Race Course road.

January 30 being the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the protest began by paying tributes to the Father of the Nation. Mangalore South MLA J R Lobo, Mangalore North MLA Mohiuddin Bava and former minister B A Moidin garlanded the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

Thereafter, addressing the protestors, J R Lobo said, “The foundation stone laying ceremony for the Yettinahole project has already been finalized and we are worried that the project will affect the Western Ghats as well as the environment in general. Though the Netravati river is full during the rainy season, we face acute water shortage in summer. This project will also affect the marine life and the breeding season of the fish, apart from jeopardising the lives of people in the area.”

“The project has been planned unscientifically and the survey has been done in a wrong manner. The government should not be in a hurry and take wrong decisions. It should study the matter deeply and take appropriate steps,” he added.

Terming the project as ‘very dangerous to Dakshina Kannada’, MLA Mohiuddin Bava said, “We have gathered here to oppose the project irrespective of party affiliations, caste and creed, and we will continue our protest till the project revoked.

“Two days back in the Assembly the Kolar MLA said that people of Kolar are suffering from acute shortage of water and they may even die, while Mangaloreans are worried about the fish. J R Lobo and I protested his statement right there in the Assembly and told the Kolar MLA not to kill Mangaloreans in order to save Kolar. We have to fight for the welfare of our district,” Bava said.

Former minister B A Moidin said, “Western Ghats is a sensitive region, hence industries and projects such as Yettinahole are likely to have an adverse impact. The government must wake up before its too late and stop such unscientific projects at the earliest. I trust chief minister Siddaramaiah to take the right decision. The govenment must stand for the people and stop this project immediately. An alternative arrangement has to be made for the people of Kolar.”

M G Hegde said, “River water joining the sea is a natural phenomena, and we cannot change or stop it. The total quantity of the river water joining the sea has to be measured at the mouth of the river, and not at its birthplace as done in this case. We never said we won’t give drinking water to Kolar. Netravati is nobody’s property, neither ours not of those who want to diver it. Netravati belongs to the people, it is a public property, hence any decision regarding this project should be taken after hold discussions with the public.”

He further said, “Officials say that this project has been undertaken to provide drinking water to Kolar, but as per information gathered through RTI, the water would be used for industrial and agricutural purposes too in Doddaballapur, Bangalore and Chikkaballapur. This way, neither the people of Kolar nor of Mangalore will benefit. The report submitted in this regard is totally unscientific.”

Alleging that the project is nothing but a means for corrupt politicians to make money, Hegde said, “The corrupt politicians and officials are using this project for their selfish motives. It was supposed to be a Rs 10,000 crore project but now the estimated cost has increased to Rs 20,000 crore. If Rs 10,000 crore is instead spent on cleaning and purifying the lakes and ponds in Kolar and encourage programmes like rainwater harvesting, the water needs of Kolar will easily be met. But some people will not allow it as they cannot make money from it, whereas Yettinahole project is a money-spinner for them.”

Puttur MLA Shakuntala Shetty said, “Netravati is our mother. We will not be able to live if this diversion is allowed. Providing drinking water to Kolar people is not wrong, but the solution must be scientific. River water diversion is unscientific and hence we have to fight against it. Our own people are trying to backstab us with this project. But whatever the case, we must try to save our mother Netravati.”

Beltangady MLA Vasanth Bangera also spoke on similar lines.

Vijaykumar Shetty welcomed the gathering and briefed on the purpose of organizing the protest.

Like-minded associations, even those from Bangalore, joined hands with the protestors. From Dakshina Kannada, people travelled to Bangalore in five buses and a tempo traveller to take part in the protest.

T K Sudhir, Ramanand Bolar, Krithin Kumar, Asif, Umarabba, Nemiraj Shetty, Uttam Alva, Surendranath Pergade, and many others were present.