Greens want voters to exercise NOTA to save Nethravathi

Environmentalists from Sahyadri Sanchaya and Rashtriya Parisara Samrakshana Okkuta, who are fighting against the implementation of the Yettinahole diversion project, have decided to appeal to voters of Dakshina Kannada district to exercise the None of the Above (NOTA) option in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Briefing reporters, Convener of Sanchaya Dinesh Holla said that in the past, 7,800 NOTA votes had been cast in the last Lok Sabha elections while during local bodies election, it had increased to 28,000. Stating that NOTA is 'Nethravathi Oggattige Taviddevendu Anumodhisona', (We are for Nethravathi), he said the destruction of forests in the Western Ghats range is affecting the sources of river originating in the Ghats.

For saving Nethravathi river, Sanchaya is also planning to field a suitable candidate at least in two to three Assembly constituencies in the upcoming elections.

The candidates are likely to be finalised in the second week of February. "It is not a question of winning or losing in the election. It is our duty to oppose those elected representatives who have failed to conserve river Nethravathi and Western Ghats," he said.

The Sanchaya members have also appealed to voters to put up a board asking the elected representatives of Congress, BJP and JD(S) who have failed to protect river Nethravathi not to seek votes. "We, the members of Sanchaya and Okkuta, will place the board in front our houses. If anyone wishes to put the board, then it will be provided by the Sanchaya," he added.

He said the forest fire, that was spotted in Somanakaadu, Barimale at the Charmadi of the Western Ghats in the month of December, could have been manmade.

"Normally forest fires take place during April-May. However, spotting of forest fire is an indication of a major environment disaster.

They say this could be a manmade fire, being used to encroach upon land," he said.

"In fact, estate owners are spraying chemicals on dry grassland and then setting it on fire. The impact of this will be on the catchment areas, as heat will increase and the green cover will disappear. The water flow will also be affected," he said.

When we spoke to the Forest Minister and demanded the need for deploying helicopters to check the spread of fire, he mockingly said that the forest department does not have so much revenue to purchase helicopters, the forum members said. Okkuta president Shashidhar Shetty and Holla alleged that mafia is controlling the Western Ghats. They also suspect that it was these mafia which spread the news about Maoists visiting houses in Shiradi. Further, ganja mafia is thriving in the ranges of Western Ghats. Forest lands have been encroached upon at ranges in Shiradi and Charmadi Ghats.

Poaching of bisons is also carried out unabated inside the forest, they added.

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