Karnataka: Medha Patkar to lead agitation against Mekedatu project | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: The contentious Mekedatu reservoir project is now facing another hurdle as environmentalists and social organisations have opposed it. Social activist and Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar on Friday said she would lead an agitation against the Mekedatu project, which envisages drinking water to Bengaluryun and surrounding districts, since it would result in submergence of 1,200 hectares of forest and displacement of thousands of tribals.
“We should resist and stop the construction of Mekedatu reservoir since it causes immense damage to the forest ecosystem and environment. Apart from submerging 1,200 hectares of forest land and lakhs of trees, the project displaced people living in the forest and put farmers under distress,” said Patkar at a press conference.
Various social and environmental organisations have came together to form the federation Karnataka Nela Jala Parisara Rakshana Samithi (KNJPRS) and they have taken up an agitation against the Mekedatu project, in support of which the Congress led a 168-km padayatra from Mekedatu in Kanakapura to Bengaluru that was suspended on Thursday owing to covid crisis and a public interest litigation the high court.
Chethan Kumar Ahimsa, actor and convener of KNJPRS, said the federation had initially planned a march in Bengaluru city and a public meeting at Freedom Park on Friday but it had to drop it and the programme was limited to an interaction and press conference addressed by Patkar.
“We will plan the further course of action once the covid wave relents. The activists including Patkar will be there with us to lead the agitation against the Mekedatu project,” said Ahimsa.
Patkar said the agitation is not against the proposal to provide drinking water to Bengaluru city, it is to oppose the scheme that results in destruction of the environment and livelihoods. “The government can ensure drinking water to Bengaluru city by various means including rain water harvesting, rejuvenation of lakes, preventing the leakage of water supply pipelines and recycling of sewage water. The projects like Mekedatu reservoir will only help the contractor lobby,” she added.
She attacked both the Congress and ruling BJP for their intent to use the drinking water project for vote bank politics. “The BJP is not following the Gandhi model, but it is following the Modi model that aims at enhancing the vote bank through projects like this,” she said as she called upon people to understand the motive and oppose the project.
Responding to Patkar’s concerns, KPCC president DK Shivakumar who led the padyatra said environment will not be damaged because of the project as the scheme includes plans for forest conservation.
“It has been assessed that there will be submergence of 5,000 acres of which 4,500 acres is forest land and 500 acres is revenue land being cultivated. Measures have been taken to prove alternative land on a 1:2 basis for the submerged land and survey has also been completed,” said Shivakumar as he was the water resources minister when the detailed project report was prepared by the previous government.
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Sagar Biswas

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