Tumakuru: Yettinahole Water Diversion Project which promises drinking water from Kolar and Chikkaballapura was approved by the BJP-led State Government in July 2012. It aims to fill 725 tanks in five districts with 24 million cubic feet (tmc) of water from the Western Ghats’ depths at Yettinahole to the ShiradyGghat’s ridgeline at Sakleshpura. The water will be pumped into an 873-kilometre pipeline, damaging 600 acres of forest.
Being an Eco-Sensitive Zone, residents of Hassan and Dakshina Kannada and many tribal activists have opposed the project since its inception.
On March 14, a portion of the Western Ghats in Karnataka’s Hassan District collapsed, damaging pipelines and a tunnel constructed for the Yettinahole Water Project. The incident was confirmed by the officials from the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited (KNNL), which is a Government-owned corporation. Around 2,000 tonnes of loose soil slid down the hill and landed on nearly two kilometres of pipeline. A tunnel built for pipeline maintenance was also damaged by the landslide.
During the tunnel’s construction, a massive precipice was created, which was damaged. According to sources, this was an engineering failure. The precipice which formed due to heavy rainfall last year is placed dangerously on a vast amount of loose ground with no barrier, and might fall at any time.
Residents of Hassan and Dakshina Kannada opposed the project since its inception. Many tribal families who reside in this area are afraid of losing their lives, homes and land. Over 13 houses here are in a high-risk area and authorities have been informed for ensuring safety and precaution.
After completion of the eight dams in the Western Ghat forests, it will lead to submerging of 1,200 hectares of land and two villages. Around 370 Megawatts of energy will be used to pump the water to different areas.
This is Karnataka’s first large inter-basin river water transfer in the highly ecologically sensitive Western Ghats. 22,000 Crore will be expended to transfer water from Dakshina Kannada District to Chikkaballapura District, which is around 220 kilometres away.
Following the landslide, many other panchayats along the banks of the River Netravathi in the taluks of Bantwal and Mangaluru are now considering officially to join the fight by passing anti-project resolutions.