Govt inclined to take up river-linking projects: DKS

Govt inclined to take up river-linking projects: DKS

Water Resource Minister D K Shivakumar speaks to media persons at Hubballi Airport on Sunday.

Water Resource Minister D K Shivakumar said the state government is highly inclined to take up projects to divert west-flowing rivers of Karnataka and augment drinking water supply to Bengaluru, Kolar and surrounding areas.

He spoke to reporters at the Hubballi airport, en route to Almatti to offer ‘bagina’ at the reservoir with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, here on Sunday.

Shivakumar said that his government wished to utilise every single drop of water that can be salvaged before the rivers empty into the sea.  

The minister said that Union Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari had called a meeting on river linking projects and related issues on August 20. The Karnataka government would strongly put forth its case for diverting rivers, he added.

The state government's proposal to divert west-flowing rivers (originating in the highly bio-sensitive Western Ghats), was met with strong opposition from environmentalists and Uttara Kannada district seers. 

Shivakumar pointed out that his department had consulted experts on, the possible harm to the ecology of the Western Ghats, that river diversion projects may cause.

"The experts have provided a favourable opinion based on the Polavaram project that diverted Krishna river water to Godavari River.

Mahadayi verdict

The minister said that his government was hopeful of obtaining a favourable verdict from the Mahadayi Tribunal on August 20. He requested people not to take law into their own hands in case of a negative verdict. 

“We have made a good presentation before the tribunal. We have also stated that water is getting leaked at unauthorised barricades across Mahadayi. We are hopeful that a favourable verdict will be delivered,” he averred.

Shivakumar said that his department was looking at the option of providing ‘rental compensation’ to the farmers who lose their land for two to three months after increasing the height of the Almatti Dam.

“We are in talks with farmers and other stakeholders to provide rental compensation; like in Pavagada, and allow them to begin cultivation when their lands are not inundated,” he added.

The minister observed that land acquisition was the major reason for the delay in implementing the court's orders and increasing the height of the Almatti reservoir.

Shifting of Aero-India show

Shivakumar urged the state BJP leaders to exert pressure on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to not shift Aero India show out of Bengaluru.

During a recent meeting with Sitharaman, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy had requested that the international expo must not be shifted to Lucknow. 

“Yet the BJP government is planning the shift. This is injustice done to the state,” Shivakumar remarked.

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