Protest against Ettinahole on the cards

Protest against Ettinahole on the cards

Demanding Paramashivaiah Report, agitators plan a second round of fight for water

The declaration of the State government that it would give priority to Ettinahole Project has not only shocked the citizens in the eight districts concerned, but also given rise to protests.

The members of the Kumudendu Maharshi Kannada Youth Association had blocked the road near Nandi Cross recently, in protest against the Ettinahole project. International athlete Manchanabele Srinivas had led a marathon protest of sportspersons along the streets of the city from the Travellers' Bungalow till the Deputy Commissioner's office.

In the midst of all such reactions by the citizens, local leaders of the CPM warned the government that a mega protest would be staged in the eight districts. “A meeting will be organised towards the end of February or beginning of March, to decide on and prepare for the protest.”

Members of the district organisation demanding implementation of permanent irrigation project too said a meeting regarding the decision of State government and the appropriate reaction to the decision would be organised soon. The conduct papers when the government took the decision would be analysed. “The stand of the government regarding both Ettinahole project and the Paramashivaiah Report will be clarified and further action taken,” they said.

Water expert G S Paramashivaiah, who celebrated his 94th birthday in Chikkaballapur recently, expressed disappointment that the State government had sidelined the report, which he had prepared after much study and focusing on implementation of permanent irrigation in the region. “The government is showing no interest in the report. If it continues in the same line, it will have to face the law,” he said.

The mixed response to the irrigation-related agitation, however, has surprised the citizens, farmers and members of various organisations in the district. Some of the agitators insist that the fight should span beyond just one or two districts, but should involve citizens of all eight districts. Others feel that only a people's protest will strengthen the struggle.

The agitators in the district have asserted that the condition in Kolar and Chikkaballapur is the worst among all dryland area districts facing drinking water shortage. There is fear of underground water drying up in barely a couple of years. “Residents of several villages in the districts are already consuming water with high fluoride level. A permanent irrigation project is absolutely necessary to increase the groundwater level and refill the water tanks in the districts.”

Farmers in Chikkaballapur expressed disappointment that the State government rejected the Paramashivaiah Report, which would have helped agricultural activities greatly. They now feel a struggle is the only way left to stand up for themselves. They hope the leaders and members of organisations plan a fight immediately and force the government to urge the government to implement the Report. “Once the Ettinahole project is implemented, there is little left that we can do,” they rue.