Karnataka: Centre’s river-linking projects in the Ghats face inclement weather. Mysuru News – Times of India

Mysore: The central government is planning to implement the two river-linking projects in the core Western Ghats of Karnataka Amid growing concerns over deforestation, landslides and extreme weather events.
state Minister Water Resources Bishweshwar Tudu Recently informed Lok Sabha that it has been proposed to link Netravati and Hemavati rivers in Hassan and Chikkamagalur districts and Bedati and Varada in Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada districts.
The people of the area and state activists have opposed the dual proposals, fearing they could bring disaster to the vulnerable areas of the Ghats.
According to the minister, the pre-feasibility report on the Netravati-Hemavati project has been completed. It is estimated that around 0.34 lakh hectares of land may be irrigated annually and there is no availability of water for drinking, industrial purposes or power generation under the project.
Draft report on Bedti-Varda project report is ready. According to estimates, this project will help irrigate 1 lakh hectares of land. At least 3 million cubic meters of water (one cubic meter is the equivalent of 1,000 liters of water) can be used for drinking and industrial purposes, in addition to helping generate about 400 megawatts of electricity.
‘It is not proper to connect the river in the Ghats’
Karnataka State Biodiversity Board chairman Anantha Hegde Ashira told TOI that past studies and experts have suggested that river linking projects in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats regions are not justified. “However, I am not aware of proposals or detailed project reports related to these schemes,” he said.
Dinesh Holla, an activist, said the Hemavati-Netravati project would sound the death knell in Dakshina Kannada and Hassan districts. “Nothing has been achieved through the Yatinahole project in Sakleshpur taluk in the last eight years. Now, the Center is planning to connect tributaries of Netravathi with Hemavati. This will cause huge damage to the environment,” he said.
An environmentalist said they have been opposing the Bedati-Varda linking project for more than two decades as it would lead to environmental disaster in Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada districts. “We will not allow the government to implement this project,” he said.
Ajay Kumar Sharma, a worker from Shivamogga said that there is not enough water in the Varada river. In addition, the Western Ghats are experiencing extreme weather events, which are likely to increase if river linking projects are undertaken.
“The failure of the Yatinahole project should be an eye-opener to all who propose such projects,” he said.