Nearly 10,000 people have signed an online campaign against the proposed construction of a 125-feet statue of Mother Cauvery near the KSR dam on the bank of the river in Karnataka’s Mandya district. The river itself is worshipped as goddess Mother Cauvery for sustaining the lives and livelihoods of three states --Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The proposed statue is that of the goddess holding a pot which is being tipped over, with water pouring out of it continuously. Estimated to cost around Rs 1,200 crore, the state government is reportedly looking at private investments for the project.
The project was announced following a meeting between Karnataka Tourism Minister S Ra Mahesh and Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar in mid-November 2018. The statue was proposed in addition to a Disneyland-like amusement park in the vicinity. The announcement came shortly after the unveiling of the Statue of Unity on the Bank of Narmoda in Gujarat.
“It is not exactly a statue, it will be like a tower. The land already belongs to the government and we will be inviting investors to invest in it, no government money will be used. It will be a tourist destination," Minister Shivakumar had told ANI on November 15.
“We are just coming up with an amusement park for tourism, like Disneyland. Mysuru is a destination for tourism. There is the famous Brindavan Garden and we want to enrich it. We want the world to look at it,” he added.
At the time of writing, 9,625 persons have supported an online/ missed call campaign started by Jhatkaa.org in January. Prior to this, the project has got flak from multiple quarters for not going through the mandatory environmental impact assessment, social impact assessment and a clearance from Geological Survey Of India.
The petition asked, “Do we really need another amusement park? Citizens are struggling to get water for everyday use. Similarly, farmers are struggling to get water for their crops both in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. We should not be wasting Cauvery water on expensive, unsustainable projects.”
“While promoting tourism in the state is important, it is equally important to ensure that it is not at the cost of severe environmental and social cost,” it added.
Jhatkaa is yet to receive a reply from CM’s office, Karnataka government’s Ministry for Environment and Forests and the state Tourism Department on some questions regarding the acquisition of agricultural land, and feasibility of the project.
Those opposing the project cite the fact that blasting and excavation activity to erect the 125-feet statue will disturb the structural stability of the KRS dam in the vicinity.
Jhatkaa also argues that the construction will also directly impact the Cauvery water usage of Bengaluru city which has already been facing water shortage in recent years.
Soon after the announcement by Minister Shivakumar, former MP and farmer leader D Madegowda had spoken against the project saying this was nothing but a ploy to grab fertile lands from farmers. Another protest against the project was held by Cauvery Technical Advisory Committee of the Institution of Engineers-India (IEI) around the same time.