SAKLESHPUR: Ramesh N is a farmer from Maranahalli, in Sakleshpur. Some years back, he made good money by selling a portion of his lands for the Yettinahole water diversion project. But now he is having second thoughts as his remaining fields are under threat.
Great heaps of mud, extracted for the project, now form the boundary of his field on the slopes of his coffee plantation.
The villages that fall under the mega project site mostly grow paddy, coffee and pepper. Many of the farmers here complain about the mud accumulating closer to their fields and near streams, which they believe will turn harmful for them during the rains.
“One good spell of rain and the mud will enter the streams. These small rivulets have been feeding water to our land for many years. While the project developers have created new roads for our villages and we are thankful, we are equally worried that the loosening of mud at many places for the project could pose a danger during monsoon,” Ramesh says apprehensively.
It’s not just Ramesh, even environmentalists fear the same as the excavation of mud for the project could also pose the risk of landslides besides the other danger of streams being overwhelmed with silt.
With research pointing out the possibility of the project not being able to deliver the promised amounts of water, activists fear that the Yettinahole project might create more harm than good.
“The catchment area of Yettinahole river has been weakened further by rampant laying of pipelines and the construction of a dam. The project promises drinking water to Kolar and Chikkaballapur, but what of the people living in Dakshina Kannada, who depend on these streams for sustenance,” questioned Dinesh
Holla, an environmentalist from Mangaluru. Another fear is that the Government, faced with a shortage of water from the Yettinahole project, would start to look beyond this tributary of the Netravati river. “A 69-kilometre long area of the catchment of Kempu Hole or Yettinahole is now under threat because of the project construction. The developers have laid new roads near Bisle, away from the project site. This has made us unsure of the intentions of the government. We don’t know if the government is also eyeing another tributary, the Kumaradhara,” he said.
The Netravati is fed by tributaries, including the Bandaji, Mrityunjaya, Aniyuru, Sunala, Kapila, Kumaradhara and Ettinahole. Currently, the project scope involves tributaries of the Ettinahole which has been seeing a steady reduction in water with every passing year.