Press Release 12 September 2013
Groups demand complete appraisal of Yettinahole Diversion Project in Karnataka
Yettinahole Diversion Project is being planned in the Western Ghats and Eastern Plains of Karnataka, by the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited (KNNL) purportedly as a drinking water supply scheme to supply 24 TMC water to Kolar and Chikkaballapur Districts. The scheme involves 8 dams in Western Ghat forests, 250 kms long canals, 80 and 50 kms long raising mains, a reservoir that will submerge 1200 hectares of land and 2 villages and will require a huge 370 MW of electricity to pump the water.
Following misleading claims by KNNL, the Project has escaped environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan, public hearing, environment clearance and environmental monitoring, in short appraisal by the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF on River Valley Projects, which wrongly concluded that it is a drinking water scheme. The EAC expressed inability of appraising this scheme since as per current EIA notification of Sept 2006, drinking water schemes do not require appraisal, which by itself is wrong and shows how poor is our environmental governance. This means a scheme with huge socio ecological costs will not need even an Environmental Impact Assessment!
The project will be disastrous for the last remaining biodiversity rich forests of western ghats and in any case it is not the most optimum or the least cost solution for the water problem of Kolar and Chikkaballapur Districts. The project documents reveal that less than a tenth of the water to be transferred from Netrawathi basin is meant for these drought prone areas even on paper. In reality, it is seriously doubtful if any water will reach these areas. There is need for a participatory decision making process involving all those impacted and those in whose name this project is meant to decide indeed if such a project should go ahead.
A detailed analysis of the official 5 volume Project report from KNNL indicates that the MoEF has taken a wrong decision. Please refer to the letter for reasons thereof.
More than 14 individuals and organisations, mainly from Karnataka have written to the Union Environment Minister, Secretary, Joint Secretary MoEF and Director, Impact Assessment, River Valley Projects Division of MoEF to reverse their earlier decision and appraise the Yettinahole Diversion Scheme entirely.
Signatories include Dr. Ullas Karanth, former non-official member of the Forest Advisory Committee, MoEF, Praveen Bhargav from Wildlife First and former member of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife, Dr. T.V. Ramchandra from Indian Institute of Sciences, noted rainwater harvesting expert Vishwanath Srikataiah, Niren Jain of Kudremukh Wildlife Foundation, amongst others.
While the signatories support long term and sustainable solutions to legitimate drinking water demands of drought affected regions in Karnataka, as the letter clarifies, Yettinahole Diversion Project does not seem to be an answer to that.
To read the letter:
Please use this letter in any way you deem fitThanks, Niren Jain (firstname.lastname@example.org) Parineeta Dandekar ( 09860030742, email@example.com)
Himanshu Thakkar (09968242798, firstname.lastname@example.org)
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People,
c/o 86-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh,
Delhi 110088, India