Udupi: Government Should Conduct Environmental Impact Assessment of Yettinahole Project – Dr Ravindranath Shanbhag

Udupi: The state government should conduct an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of Yettinahole project, said Dr Ravindranath Shanbhag, President of HRPF. He was speaking at a press meet held on the technical issues linked to the Yettinahole Project at Vaikunta Baliga College of Law, here on September 28.

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The Karnataka Neeravari Nigama Limited (KNNL) has floated tenders without conducting Environmental Impact Assessment. EIA is not needed for the projects that facilitate drinking water supply. The KNNL to escape EIA declared the Yettinahole project as one that facilitates drinking water needs. In the project report prepared by ET Technologies Limited, it is clearly mentioned that the project would supply 1 TMC water to industry. If the project was associated with drinking water supply, then why will they supply water to the industries?

The Government of Karnataka directed Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited (one of the nodal agencies for implementing major irrigation projects) to explore the possibility of identifying source of water to meet the water requirement of Chikkaballapur and Kolar Districts. KNNL in turn outsourced the job to EI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Bengaluru.

EIT concluded that the most reliable and sustainable source which is free from any tribunal and within the purview of Karnataka state are West flowing rivers. It prepared a feasibility report in 2010 to divert 10 TMC of water from Yettinahole near Sakleshpur of Hassan District. In this report, KNNL claimed 24 TMC water can be diverted from the same source.

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KNNL’s proposal is to build a reservoir near Devarayanadurga near Tumkur that can hold 10 TMC of water. The remaining 14 TMC is to be utilized for drinking purpose in Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Tumkur and Bengaluru Rural Districts.

A report submitted to the Government of Karnataka in 2011 had stated that the water available in the Netravathi River was 10 TMC, which was later raised to 24 TMC to fool the EIA. Figures were distorted to get the necessary sanctions.

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The project would require 125 MW of power to supply water to Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts. The total electricity bill for the project would be more than Rs 137 crores. The initial cost of the project in 2011 was Rs 8,323.50 crores. The cabinet then raised the project cost to Rs 12,912 crores in 2014 and in 2015 it was raised to Rs 15,000 crores. The total project will cost more than Rs 25000 crores. The maintenance cost of the project will be Rs 1000 crores annually.

The construction of the dam is hazardous. The collapse of dams due to tremours will washout Mangaluru, Puttur and Bantwal. More than 30 lakh trees will be damaged. Endangered and other species will also be severely affected. The construction of the dam is merely not possible as it will require another 50 years to complete since it is a difficult task which requires best expertise.

The report proposes to build 8 dams in all in two phases. The rivers involved are Yettinahole and its two tributaries, Kadumane hole, Keeri hole and Hongadahalla. These rivers flow at an elevation of 750m and 950m mean sea level. Only flood water during rainy season is to be diverted.

The water from the dams will be lifted to Haravanahalli (a place near Sakleshpur). The water will be pumped at Haravanahalli to Tumkur through a gravity canal of 233 km. The water will be further pumped to Devarayanadurga reservoir and then will be supplied to Chikkaballapur and Kolar with a pipeline of 80 km.

Kolar records 780mm rainfall annually and 100 TMC of water is available annually. The people’s representatives say that the water in Kolar contains fluoride. The supply of river from Yettinahole to the same reservoirs in Kolar containing fluoride will be useless; instead setting up of fluoride treatment plants costing Rs 60 crores is more feasible than spending Rs 25,000 crores.

ET technology in its report has stated that the coastal region receives 6,280mm of rainfall which is far from truth. The coastal region, according to the Government of Karnataka, receives 3,200 mm of rainfall. They considered Bantwal as the testing point for the flow of water; instead Kadumane, where Yettinahole originates, should have been considered as the testing point.

If the state government wants to protect the interests of the people, it should opt for Hemavathi River. Hemavathi River is contaminated and if water is effectively treated, then that water can be used for drinking water purpose. The Hemavathi River can serve the purpose of Yettinahole to a certain extent, he added.

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