The voices opposing the Karnataka government's plan to divert water from the Sharavathi River in Shivamogga to Bengaluru is growing louder after an online petition sought to cancel the project.
The petition has been filed amid a flurry of public meetings organised by citizen groups and environmentalists in Shivamogga district who have come together under the banner 'Sharavathi Ulisi Horata Samiti'. The group is planning to organise a district-wise bandh and protest on July 10 and has conducted public meetings in Shivamogga, Sagar, Hosanagara and Soraba so far.
"We are receiving a good response from the meetings and we are making people aware of what this plan will do to our district. Everyone regardless of political ideology has joined to oppose this plan. We cannot allow this to happen when there is a drought-like situation in Shivamogga," says Akhilesh Chipli, an environmentalist based in Sagar. The next public meeting is scheduled for Theerthahalli on Saturday.
Meeting organised in Hosanagara, Shivamogga
Chipli and the Samiti have raised concerns that forests will be cut down to build pipelines and roads to execute the project. They also contend that Shivamogga district is grappling with water scarcity. As per reports compiled by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), Shivamogga has received 56% deficient rainfall this month.
The Karnataka government is set to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) over diverting water from the Sharavathi River flowing in Shivamogga to Bengaluru. The plan is to draw water from the Linganamakki reservoir, which acts as a source of water for the Sharavathi hydel project.
The reservoir is currently facing a shortage of water with only 9% of the total capacity of water available. Engineers at the reservoir admit that they will be able to generate power for only one more month at the current rate.
Despite these concerns, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara recently stated that the state government will prepare a DPR to go ahead with the project to divert water west-flowing Sharavathi River. The plan comes after the state government's earlier plan of diverting water from the west-flowing Nethravathi river to districts near Bengaluru. After protests were carried out by residents and activists opposing the plan, the project was limited to Yettinahole, a tributary of the Nethravathi river.