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No politics on Water.... - A N Yellappa Reddy - The Sunday Indian
An IIPM Initiative
Friday, October 20, 2017


No politics on Water....


The Yettinahole project clearly indciates how experts’ suggestions are ignored
A N YELLAPPA REDDY | Issue Dated: April 13, 2014, New Delhi
Tags : Yettinahole Project | Dr. Paramashivaiah | Indian Institute of Science | Ecological problems |

The Yettinahole Project is launched with no clearances taken by any of concerned environment or forest organizations, or from central government nodal agencies. First of all they did not even conduct Detailed Project Report for the scheme.

Dr. Paramashivaiah’s marked toposheet report explains that flood water which flows from hills should garland like channel and be trapped in 800 - 900 ft level catchment and then diverted towards respected dry area. As per group of experts from the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), it is almost humanly impossible to go and dig a canal which connects the flood waters and harvest. This flood water diversion project did not calculated yield - how much of water should trap from unknown total amount of flood water and at which level it should flow- properly. There is no clarity in water storage facility, the needed power to pump it and where to flow the seized water. There is no detailed project report (DPR) done which explains all these area of diversion project. As per government report, there should be an aqueduct in 60 meter height. In this calculation, the 180 ft height aqueduct will extend around 6 km wide! No one in the world has built an aqueduct that is in 180 ft height and 6 km wide. Also, there is no DPR on where to build this aqueduct and about storing area of flood water. The expert group of IIS has suggested measuring the alternative ways. But the government, instead of examining the suggestions of expert groups, straight away launched the project.

In fact, IIS has suggested a good way to construct tunnel of channels which is low cost and requires no power for pumping water from catchment area. Through tunnels, water can be routed to flow in to present reservoirs. Further, this water from tunnel of channels can be stored in different natural catchment areas to pump towards designated area. There should not be any politics or regional consideration while giving water, mere technical feasibility should be the criteria with political will. If the government tries to cave in benefits from regional politics in distribution of water, we would end up with ecological unbalance - a thing which is least desired.

Obviously, we can’t rule out a drinking water project telling economic - cost benefit is high. Though, government can try an alternative project where they can rejuvenate dry areas and focus on filling open wells with rain water. There are many ways to harvest rain water and afforestation methods to revive ground water levels, but those ways are not prioritized.

Also, One can look at an option of changing crop pattern. However, locales want to farm tomato and paddy fields from bore-well water. And our government encourages such farming practices by giving loans and power benefits! Not only this, government gives loans to dig bore-well and to pump water in to the paddy fields. Imagine, farmers sell same paddy for just Rs 3 per KG!!! In a state like Rajasthan, it has been preferred reviving ground water in open wells, with the will of both people as well as the government. There is a Water Act Policy in those states. Sadly, we don’t have any of such act here for proper utilization of water.

There is much protest in Dakshina Kannada and Malenad districts regarding diversion of water. But, if government opts for IIS suggestion and use tunnel channel way, it would not be harmful for those districts. Only excess amount of flood water needs to be tunnelled in to water catchment area. Government must examine and work towards implementing this idea in better ways. Though they have given the name of ‘flood water diversion scheme’ to Yettinahole project, the present report for government is prepared by contractor lobby and not the experts. Engineers who favor the contractor lobby prepared this untechnical report. The real project cost Rs 13,000 crore will double to Rs 38,000 after its implementation. So, there is definitely contractors lobby working behind it.

Ecological problems are more compared to socio-economic problems of the project. If we create channels and store water in non-natural catchment area, soil will get wet and dampen the area. Dampening whole channel with flood water will be very dangerous for habitat as well as flora & fauna of Western Ghats. One can’t intrude nature in such a dangerous way.

There have been several projects announced and dropped or delayed due to many reasons in Western Ghats to date. But all these projects are in some way causing destruction of the environment. Already we have assaulted Mother Nature in so many ways. Man should stop playing with it now.

If a drinking water scheme is needed, IIS has given proper suggestions to the government. There is a need to find ways to use resources without harming ecological balance.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017