Western Ghats

Yettinahole Diversion: An imprudent, Rs.100 Billion proposition

Background Karnataka has been mulling over diverting waters of the west flowing rivers to the east for many years. Netravathi-Hemavathy Link was proposed by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) as a part of peninsular component of the River linking project. In the meantime, Karnataka appointed a committee under the leadership of Dr. G. S. Paramshivaiah which worked on a plan to divert waters from west-flowing rivers including Netravathi to 7 districts of Bayaleseeme region including Kolar, Bangalore, Tumkur, Ramanagara, Chikmagalore, Chikkaballapur, etc.

River Gundia, formed by Yettinahole and other streams which are to be diverted by Yettinahole Diversion Project Photo: SANDRP
River Gundia, formed by Yettinahole and other streams which are to be diverted by Yettinahole Diversion Project Photo: SANDRP

But currently, the Karnataka Government is seriously considering Yettinahole Diversion Project which plans to divert head waters of the Gundia River ( a tributary of the Kumardhara, which is a tributary of the Netravathi) in the west and transfer this water to the other end of the state, in the east. It has been reported that tenders for this project have been floated already. Its Project Report (June 2012 version) is titled as ‘Scheme for diversion of flood water from Sakleshpura (West) to Kolar/ Chikkaballapra Districts (East)’.

NOTE, SANDRP: 4 Sept 2014:

Following the efforts of several groups, including SANDRP, Yettinahole Project was strongly opposed, though advocacy and on-ground struggle. In response, the Karnataka government has made substantial changes in the DPR of the Project which was completed in late 2013/early 2014. Several elements have been changed cosmetically, to counter our valid points, thus vindicating the points raised below. SANDRP has published a detailed assessment of this DPR. It can be found here: Yettinahole DPR: New Avtaar, Old Problems.  https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/yettinahole-diversion-dpr-new-avataar-old-problems/


In Karnataka Budget Part I, February 2012, Rs 200 Crores have been allocated for making DPR and initial works while Rs 2670 Crores have been sanctioned and Rs 850 Crores allocated in 2013-14 for lift works upto Harvanahalli in Sakaleshpura.[1] All these allocations have been made without a Detailed Project Report, cost benefit assessment, options assessment or environmental and social appraisal of the scheme, or any statutory clearances. This is highly problematic as this assessment indicates that this energy intensive project will have profound impact on Western Ghats biodiversity, wildlife and livelihoods


SANDRP analyzed the Project Report (PR) which was obtained under RTI by Mr. Kishore Kumar Hongadhalla, who had specifically asked for a ‘Detailed’ Project Report. The total cost of the project as per the PR is 8323 Crores. But the estimate does not include many costs like Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R & R), complete land acquisition, construction of reservoirs on Palar Basin as mentioned in the Project Report, pipeline to 337 tanks, Forest NPV, etc. If these are included, cost of the project will certainly go beyond Rs 10000 crores /Rs 100 billion.


Purpose of this scheme is stated as drinking water supply to Kolar and Chikkaballapur Districts. However, analysis of the Project Report indicates that drinking water to be supplied to Kolar and Chikkaballapur will be a bare 2.81 TMC or 11.7% of the 24.01 TMC diverted. If water is supplied to Bangalore (urban) as is said in the Budget, but not the Project Report, then water supplied to Kolar and Chikkaballapur will be even less, possibly nil.


Analysis of the Project Report and site visits to Yettinahole and surrounding catchments indicate that this project is economically, socially and technically inviable and will have a massive impact on the ecology of the Western Ghats and eastern plains. The analysis also assesses the claim of providing drinking water to Kolar and Chikkaballapur: whether it is viable, desirable and optimal option.

I.                    The Project

The project involves construction of 8 dams  in 2 phases at the head waters of Gundia River basin, a tributary of Kumaradhara, which in turn is a major tributary of the West flowing Netravathi River, the lifeline of Mangalore and Dakshin Kannada districts. The Project Report insists on calling these as weirs, but the drawings[1] indicate the height these dams as 15 meters from deepest foundation, making them large dams, as per the definition of International Commission on Large Dams {ICOLD}.

Dams and rising mains in Western Ghats: 2 dams are planned across Yettinahole stream, 2 on its tributaries, 2 across Kadumanehole stream, 1 across Kerihole stream and 1 across Hongadhalla stream. All these streams are rivulets which join at various points to make river Gundia. Rising mains (large pipelines that transport water under pressure) from these projects will pump water into 3 delivery chambers. From the delivery chambers, water will be lifted to an intermediate pumping station at Doddanagara in Sakaleshpur. From Doddanagara, water will be lifted again and conveyed to Delivery chamber 4 located near Harvanahalli in Sakaleshpura.

Schematic Representation of pumping involved in Yettinahole Diversion Project. From: KNNL Project Report Volume I)
Schematic Representation of pumping involved in Yettinahole Diversion Project. From: KNNL Project Report Volume I)

233 kms long Gravity canal: From Harvanahalli, water will flow through a gravity canal of 233 kms (Proponent says 250 kms in MoEF Meeting) in length to Tumkur.

Devaranya Durga Reservoir: From Tumkur, again the water will be lifted through a rising main and will culminate into a reservoir to be built at Devaranyadurga. This reservoir will have a height of 68 meters and gross storage capacity of 11 TMC. It will submerge approximately 980.4 hectares of land, including forests.

When this project was discussed in the Expert Appraisal Committee meeting of the Ministry of environment and Forests, the proponents have claimed that Devaranyadurga Reservoir will submerge 1200 hectares of land, of which 50% will be forest land and will also submerge at least 2 villages.[2]

From here, two rising mains of 80 kms and 55 kms will again lift and convey water to Chikkaballapura and Kolar respectively. In Chikkaballapura and Kolar, the rising main will feed various streams and rivers and will have dedicated pipelines to feed Minor Irrigation (MI) and Zilla Parishad (ZP) tanks.  Scheme envisages feeding 198 tanks in Chikkaballapur and 139 tanks in Kolar District.

The scheme envisages providing 14 TMC for Hassan, Chikkamagalore, Tumkur and Bangalore rural and 10 TMC for Kolar and Chikkaballapur, through the dam at Devaranyadurga. So, the claims that Kolar and Chikkaballapur will get 24 TMC water is false. The project report is titled ‘Scheme of diversion of floodwaters to Chikkaballpur and Kolar’ but these districts seem to be getting less than 50% of the diverted water. As we see in later sections, of this 10 TMC barely 2.81 TMC is earmarked for drinking water supply.

Locations of Dams/Weirs of Yettinahole Project SANDRP
Locations of Dams/Weirs of Yettinahole Project SANDRP

New Reservoirs planned

  • Chikkaballapur District:
    • New reservoir across Kushavathy River at Gudibande.
    • A new reservoir At Timassandra across Palar river
    • Kolar District: Bethmangala Tank to be used as an important reservoir
    • At Tanadihalli on Palar River North to store 2.20 TMC water

Electricity needed: As per the project Report, the scheme will require massive 370 MW of electricity.

Yettinahole River Photo: SANDRP
Yettinahole River Photo: SANDRP

Volume of water to be diverted: 24.01 TMC water is proposed to be diverted between June-November from a catchment area of 89.66 sq kilometers (8966 hectares). It has to be noted that 24.01 TMC water is available at 50% dependability. So, in 50% years under consideration, 24.01 TMC volume would not be available for diversion. The structures and conveyance system has also been designed at 50% dependability. This may imply several things:

  • The scheme can work beyond June-November
  • The scheme can divert more than 24 TMC waters from Yettinahole
  • The scheme can be used later for diverting waters of other rivers.

This further warrants a serious look at the entire project.

II.                  Environmental Impact of the Project on Western Ghats and other regions

Impact on Forest Land and Wildlife

The exact extent of revenue, private, agriculture and forest land required for the scheme is not known from the PR. The report (Volume II, Estimates) mentions a head ‘clearing of thick forest by burning’ under costs for laying rising mains from dams to pumping stations. According to these estimates, 107.27 hectares of thick forests will have to be cut or burnt for the rising mains alone.

Yettinahole Catchment and surrounding forests Photo: SANDRP
Yettinahole Catchment and surrounding forests Photo: SANDRP

The forest land involved in submergence of dams, approach roads, workers colonies, muck dumping sites, electrical substations, mining of materials for the project, destruction due to blasting, etc. will be additional. The project report does not provide any of these details.

Most of the forests in the vicinity of Yettinahole, Kadumane hole, Kerihole and Hongadhalla are not only reserved forests, but important wildlife corridors. When IISC studied this region  it recorded  119 trees species,  63 shrubs and climbers, 57 herbs and 54 pteridophytes[3], 44 species of butterflies, 4 dragon and damsel flies, 23 species of amphibians including the threatened Gundia Indian Frog, 32 reptiles, 91 birds and 22 mammals including Tiger, Lion Tailed Macaque, Elephant, Slender Loris and Gaur.

Elephant dung at a KPCL survey in Hongadhalla region, to be affected by Yattinahole Diversion Project. Photo: IISc
Elephant dung at a KPCL survey in Hongadhalla region, to be affected by Yattinahole Diversion Project. Photo: IISc

The region is witnessing rising man animal conflicts due to destruction and degradation of habitats. During 2002-2012-13, 34 people have died and 17 elephants have been electrocuted in Sakaleshwar Taluk alone (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/elephant-encounter-is-an-everyday-affair-for-them/article4874172.ece). The Karnataka Elephant Task Force has acknowledged the impact of mini hydel projects in Sakaleshpur on Elephant corridors and has given strong recommendations about reviewing clearance and canceling projects which affect elephant distribution areas negative and do not comply with existing laws.

Dams, roads, blasting, muck disposal, workers colonies, sub stations, increased traffic in this region will have a pronounced impact on the wildlife, including the elephants. Any more stress on these regions will precipitate in furthering of conflicts and disturbance.

Environmental Flows As per the working tables, all inflow from the headwaters will be diverted for the most of June, parts of July and August and all of September, October and November. The streams will be completely dry for most days during this period. (Project Report Vol. I, Page A 21) There has been no provision made for environmental flows. This will be extremely damaging for the downstream ecology, wildlife and forests. This issues needs urgent attention and studies.

The scheme may look inviable if eflows are released, as they must be, from the dams/ dams into the downstream river.

Impact on fish assemblages and fish sanctuaries Kumaradhara and Netravathi are home to some rare community conserved fish sanctuaries. Fish sanctuaries exist at Kukke Subramanya, Nakur Gaya and Yenekal, all of which are downstream from the proposed diversion. The fish assemblages, their feeding and breeding patterns are highly affected by flow. Any drastic changes in flow regime will affect these species.

Gundia River itself has several rare and endangered fish species. 3 new fish species have been discovered and 1 rediscovered in Kumardhara river basin between 2012-13[4]

Congregation of the engandgered Mahseer fish at Yenekal Fish Sanctuary, Kumaradhara RIver downstream proposed Yettinahole diversion. Photo: SANDRP
Congregation of the endangered Mahseer fish at Yenekal Fish Sanctuary, Kumaradhara River downstream of proposed Yettinahole diversion. Photo: SANDRP

Blasting using dynamite The project report and estimates state that hard rock will need to be blasted extensively with dynamite. Dynamite blasting will have severe negative impact on the wildlife of the region. Blasting also has documented harmful effects on groundwater aquifers and can affect the existing water sources and water holes of the wildlife.

Muck generation and disposal As per the project report, muck generated for laying the rising mains alone will be to the tune of 13,02,837 cubic meters. All of this muck will be generated close to the rivers, in forest areas. Dumping of this muck will have a huge negative impact on water quality, forests and wildlife. Uttarakhand disaster in June 2013 highlighted the how muck is routinely disposed into rivers and the havoc this causes in the downstream.

Additional muck will be generated during dam/ dam construction, approach, colonies, substations, etc. The impact of this will be compounded.

Approach roads, workers colonies All the dams/ dams, rising mains, electric substations will require approach roads which will pass through forests, further impacting forests and wildlife. Workers colonies and waste disposal will again have additional impacts on the region.

Diverting entire rivers and not just floodwaters The scheme purports that it is diverting only the flood waters of these rivers. However, the yield of all the rivers at 50% dependability between June-November is 28.94 TMC, out of which 24.01 TMC will be diverted. This leaves just 4.93 TMC for the downstream. This is maximum diversion of the rivers and not just ‘flood waters’ or overflow.

Also, even when rainfall is low, the scheme will divert all available water till it gets its share of 24.01 TMC, which will then dry the rivers completely in the downstream.

These are monsoon-fed rivers. Only source of water for these rivers is the monsoon, which also replenishes groundwater, which constitutes the base flow in non-monsoon months. This diversion in monsoon months will have a huge impact on water availability in non-monsoon months also in these rivers and which in turn will have impact on the biodiversity and livelihoods.

III.                Supposed Beneficiaries: Contradictions between Budget and Project Report

As stated (verbatim) in the Project Report, following are the beneficiaries of the project (Project Report Volume I:  Section 4.7, Page 52)

  • Selected parts in Hassan District
  • Selected towns in Chikmagalur, Chitradurga by feeding Vedavathi river
  • Tumkur, Madhugiri, Pavagada and Koratagere Taluk
  • Chamrajsagar reservoir
  • Water to Devanhalli Industrial Area
  • Augmentation of Hesarghatta tank
  • Water to Chikkaballpur and Kolar District

In addition, water will be used to rejuvenate Rivers like Arkavathy (Cauvery Basin), Palar, (Independent basin) Jayamangli, Kushavathy, Uttara and Dakshin Pinakini, Chitravathi and Papagni rivers (Pennar Basin) (Project Report Volume I: Section 4.9, Page 52)

The project report makes no mention of supplying water to Bangalore urban area or BBMP (Bruhut Benguluru Mahananagara Palike). However, the Karnataka Budget 2012-14 specifically mentions providing water to these areas.

How much water will this be? What are the options of water supply to Bangalore? If water is supplied to voracious Bangalore and Devanahalli Industrial area, will there actually be water for Kolar, Chikkaballapur and other drought affected areas?

River Rejuvenation: Long distance transfer of water involving huge ecological, social and financial costs seems to be a poor way of rejuvenating rivers. Experts claim that rejuvenating rivers like Arkavathy can be achieved with rainwater harvesting, demand side management, pollution control and releasing treated water in rivers like Arkavathy and Vrishabhavati, not interbasin transfers.

Priority to Drinking water for Kolar and Chikkaballapur? Doesn’t seem so

Of the 10 TMC to be provided to Kolar and Chikkaballapur, the Project Report mentions that drinking water needs of Kolar and Chikaballapur Districts are 6 TMC. Rest of the 4 TMC will be used to fill up 337 MI and ZP Tanks in the districts.

The project report proposes to fill these tanks at 60% live storage capacity. According to Table 2 and 3 in Project Report Volume 1, Page 7, this proposed 60% filling requires 4.08 TMC water in Chikkaballapur District and 3.11 TMC water in Kolar District. So together, as per the Project Report, the proposed filling of MI tanks needs 7.19 TMC water.

This leaves bare 2.81 TMC water for drinking purposes of these districts!

If out of 24.01 TMC transferred, only 2.81 TMC will be supplied for drinking water to Kolar and Chikaballapur, this is clearly not a drinking water supply project for these districts, as claimed.

So undecided is the Project Report about supplying drinking water that it says further “alternatively if water is to be used fully for drinking, then it will require 4 new storage tanks”. The Project Report does not conclude on whether these tanks will be built.

IV.                Escaping Environmental Clearance by false claims

This scheme will:

  1. Destroy hundreds of hectares of pristine biodiversity rich and unexplored forests, wildlife habitats, habitats of critically endangered species, reserved and protected forests in the Western Ghats
  2. Affect downstream flows and riverine ecology of the Gundia, Kumaradhara & Netravathi Rivers
  3. It will submerge nearly a 1200 hectares of land, 50% forest land and 2 villages  for reservoir to be constructed at Devaranyadurga
  4. Main gravity canal which will be 250 kms long and 16 mts wide (as stated in EAC meeting by proponent) will require a minimum of 400 hectares of land
  5. It involves Interbasin water transfer, which is not prudent or viable as per the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel Report

Clearly, the scheme requires detailed scrutiny for its impacts by undergoing participatory environment and social impact assessment and undergoing a thorough Environmental Appraisal.

The scheme has escaped this by wrongly claiming that it is a purely drinking water supply scheme. The proposal was considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF in its 63rd meeting in October 2012. In the meeting, the EAC noted that ‘there appear to be some environmental and R and R issues which should be addressed” but recorded its inability to consider this project as drinking water projects do not fall in the purview of EIA Notification 2006.

The minutes note that: “The project neither proposes any hydro-electric power generation component nor comprises of any irrigation component and thus has no command area.”

However, this is a wrong claim for the following reasons, among others:

A. Irrigation Component: The EAC says that there is no irrigation component. However, the command areas of 337 minor irrigation tanks in Kolar and Chikkaballapur, as mentioned in the Project Report (Voulme I, Annex 3) come to 29,182 hectares, all of which will benefit from the project. This is higher than command area of 10,000 hectares; hence the project comes under the purview of EIA Notification 2006 and will have to be considered for Environmental Clearance by Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF under EIA notification 2006.

B. Hydropower Generation: The project claims that it can generate 125-150 MW of power   through gravity canals. Location details are also made available in the Project erport (Page 59, Volume I). As the total capacity is higher than 25 MW, the project comes under the purview of EIA Notification 2006 and will have to considered for Environmental Clearance by the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF.

It is clear that the EAC’s decision that the project does not fall under the purview of EIA notification is incorrect technically. Furthermore, it is unacceptable to exclude any large dam or project which has such significant impact on land and ecology from the purview of EIA notification and EIA notification needs urgent amendment.

A joint letter has been issued by more than 14 organisations and individuals across Karnataka, urging the MoEF to appraise this project completely. Signatories include former Forest Advisory committee Member Dr. Ullas Karanth, Praveen Bhargav from Wildlife First, institutes like IISc, amongst many other. (https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/complete-appraisal-needed-for-yettinahole-diversion-project-letter-to-moef/) Reports on the Submission: www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/1889546/report-govt-hiding-facts-on-yettinahole-say-activists,http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-09-12/mangalore/42007183_1_yettinahole-project-chikkaballapur-districts-water-problem,http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-09-13/mangalore/42039865_1_water-problem-drinking-water-supply-scheme-dams)

V.    Yettinahole & Gundia HEP (Phase I: 200 MW, Phase II: 200 MW) overlap

While the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited is making Project Reports, DPRs and has even earmarked budget in 2013-14 session, Gundia HEP has been planned on the same catchments and same rivers by Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL).

Gundia HEP proposes to divert flows from Yettinahole, Kerihole, Hongadhalla and Kadumanehole (Phase II) through maze of tunnels to generate 200 MW power in phase I and 200 MW in Phase II. KPCL has completed an Environment Impact Assessment for this project (which is of a poor quality). KPCL has also made presentations to the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel about the project.

Power generation is based on water yield from the catchment, which will be intercepted by Yettinahole Diversion Project. In fact, dams of Gundia HEP and Yettinahole HEP are placed close to each other. Both the projects, by the Karnataka Government are working in isolation and cross purposes as if the other project does not exist.

Locations of weirs and dams of Gundia and Yettinahole Projects SANDRP
Locations of weirs and dams of Gundia Hydel Project (GHEP) and Yettinahole Projects SANDRP

Shockingly, both projects have also been considered within three months by the EAC of the MoEF for appraisal. The Expert Appraisal committee of the MoEF in its 59th Meeting in July 2012 considered Gundia HEP and in its 63rd Meeting in October 2012 Yettinahole Diversion Project. EAC has recommended Environmental Clearance to Gundia (another wrong decision), whereas it has indicated that Yettinahole Diversion Project does not require an Environmental Clearance. In doing so, the EAC has not considered that both these projects plan to divert waters from the same catchments. This also says a lot about application of mind by the Expert Appraisal Committee. At the same time, it also raises questions about the coordination and work of Karnataka Government.

VI.                Options Assessment

The project raises pertinent questions about water management and water sharing: Is diverting water from west flowing rivers, at a huge social, ecological and economical costs the only option to provide drinking water to Kolar and Chikkaballapur regions? Is there no other optimal solution? Did the Karnataka government undertake an options assessment study to arrive at such a conclusion?

An analysis of rainfall for the one hundred years between 1901-2001 indicates that rainfall in Kolar and Chikkaballapur has not shown significant fall.

Annual Rainfall in Kolar District during 1901-2001 Data Source: IMD, Graph: SANDRP
Annual Rainfall in Chikkaballapur District during 1901-2001 Data Source: IMD, Graph: SANDRP
Annual Rainfall in Kolar District during 1901-2001 Data Source: IMD, Graph: SANDRP

Kolar District, especially was once rich in water tanks and local harvesting measures. Average rainfall in Kolar is 750 mm, which is not low. According to the Karnataka Gazetteer, the district had, in 2012, only 2,095 tanks from the 35,783 tanks in 1968. Most of the tanks were a victim of siltation, encroachment and neglect.[5] Organisations like Gramvikas and Dhan Foundation have demonstrated how desilting and management of tanks in Kolar can secure water for drinking as well as for irrigation, cattle rearing, etc.[6] Some groups have worked on highlighting the positive impact of applying reservoir silt to crops, as an option to fertilisers and to facilitate desilting. Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) has demonstrated that desilting these tanks in Kolar can not only help water security, but it can also reduce the incidence of fluorosis.[7]

River Rejuvenation: Long distance water diversion is not an answer to drying and dying rivers Rivers like Arkavathy are dying due to persistent pollution from industries and urban areas and also due to catchment degradation. How will waters from Yettinahole revive this situation? Local efforts, sound environmental and water governance however, can help this situation. But this is not being explored sufficiently.


Long-distance water transfer: problems and prospects

(From: Prof. Asit Bisaws, Long-Distance Water Transfer United Nations University, 1983)

If many of the past and present experiences on long-distance water transfer are reviewed critically, the following major issues emerge:

(1)                Mass transfer of water is often justified by considering only the direct cost of transporting water. Seldom are the values of services foregone by the exporting region due to reduction of their water availability, i.e. the opportunity costs of exported water analysed.

(2) Various other feasible alternatives to interbasin water transfer are often not investigated. There is a tendency within the engineering and economic professions to opt for technological solutions-“soft” options tend to be neglected. Since water resources development is dominated by these two professions, there is a tendency to opt for technological fixes before all viable alternatives are explored. Among possible options are:

-more efficient use of available water;

-re-use of waste water;

-better management of watersheds;

-improved integration of surface and groundwater supplies;

-changing cropping patterns.


Climate Change and Western Ghats:

Climate change Assessments like 4X4 Assessment of INCA have indicated that rainfall in southern Western Ghats, which also includes Netravathi and Gundia catchment is expected to fall in the coming years. This will affect water resource projects, crops, fisheries, etc. (https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/climate-change-in-western-ghats-4×4-report-and-beyond/)

We cannot ignore these signals while planning expensive schemes at the cost of ecology and sociology which might prove to be inviable in a few years in face of climate change. Keeping all these factors in mind Karnataka needs to proceed extremely cautiously on Yettinahole diversion scheme.


VII.              In Conclusion

Environment and Social Assessment are basic prerequisites for a project of such massive dimensions.

All in all, looking at several serious issues associated with Yettinahole Diversion Project, it is urgently needed that:

  1. Project should undergo complete  Environment appraisal and Clearance scrutiny, as laid down by the  EIA notification, 2006
  2. Recommendations of the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel about avoiding inter-basin transfers in the Western Ghats should be adhered to.
  3. Options Assessment and cost benefit analysis, including the ecological costs of the diversion should be carried out and put in public domain.
  4. Downstream affected communities, including cities like Mangalore and estuarine fisher folk should be consulted during public hearings.
  5. Unbiased assessment about the water stress in Kolar and Chikkaballapur should be carried out with members from groups which have been working from the region, to evolve a holistic water management policy for the region.
  6. Options for reviving rivers and tanks in Kolar-Chikkaballapur need to be explored using traditional and appropriate technology practices. Appropriate cropping pattern and cropping methods should be a part of this exercise.
  7. A review of rain water harvesting, efficient water supply, demand management, lake revival, groundwater recharge, grey water and sewage recycling for cities including Bangalore should be carried out prior to allocating more water from distant sources to such cities.
  8. A democratic bottom up exercise has to be taken up on such proposals both in the Western Ghats areas as well as the projected benefiting areas.

It will not be the interest of the ecology in Western Ghats, Eastern regions or communities in Dakshin Kannada, Hassan, Kolar, Tumkur, Bangalore and Chikkaballpur if a project of such massive proportions, with devastating social and environmental impacts is taken up for short term political or financial gains, bypassing proper credible appraisal and democratic decision making.

Kolar and Chikkaballapur regions have been facing severe water crisis, leading to hardships to local communities. But, for a long term and sustainable solution to these problems, Yettinahole Diversion does not look like a viable option, we do not even know how much water will reach these regions. But the project has the potential to exacerbate ecological degradation, fuel man animal conflicts and further water conflicts between regions.

Drought affected regions may have better options, including better operation and maintenance of existing water infrastructure, more appropriate cropping and water use pattern, revival of existing water harvesting structures, recycle and reuse of water, among others. Attention needs to be paid to these options, rather than ‘diverting’ it.

Hidden costs of projects like Yettinahole Diversion are too big to be actually hidden.

-Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP  (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com)

[1] Volume II, Part B, Estimates, Section: Estimates for implementation of the scheme: Drawings

[2] Minutes of the Meeting, 63rd EAC Meeting, MoEF held on 12-13th October 2012. Agenda Item 2.11 (B)

[3] Pteridophytes are plants from the fern family that reproduce by spores.

[4] http://www.deccanherald.com/content/264870/researchers-stumble-species-fish.html, Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, Vol. 23, Number 4

36 thoughts on “Yettinahole Diversion: An imprudent, Rs.100 Billion proposition

  1. i cannot understasnd how only one man report i.e paramashivaiah apprisal to govt gets the nod of the project, i dont know whether the project report indcludes the societal benefit cost analysis, envirnomental impact analysis in the recent declaration that westerghat is world heritage site, whether the actual target regions i.e kolar, and other district have any alternate plan. The short term vision of visionaries (proponents) certainly converts karnataka into anther Rajastan .




    1. Dear Govind Raju Sir,

      Many thanks for your response. We totally agree with what you say. Desilting of the tanks and creating some additional rain water harvesting systems, better cropping patterns, cropping methods like SRI, Demand Side management, groundwater recharging & management are some of the key areas where a lot of work can be done to advantage for Chikaballapura district.

      Can you tell us why the Talagawara tank has dried up? How big it is?

      May be you can write a more detailed article covering all this and some specific examples?



    2. Thanks Mr. Govinda Raju. Yes indeed, desilting existing tanks in Kolar and Chikkaballapur needs to be explored first, even before considering a ecologically and socially costly project like Yettinahole Diversion. It is good to see people like you from the Chikkaballapur region stand up against the project and urging for rational options.


  3. Thanks for this very informative article. I was searching for a good analysis of Yettinhole project. This article correctly analyses and beautifully explains its impacts on environment.


  4. The report is pretty helpful, and any individual concerned on Ecology like me will definitely not support this Yethinahole project.But, your team could help people like us by guiding how best we can help farms. I have entered the farming sector in chickballapur, which is quite challenging, as the water table has almost reached the deepest levels. Rain water harvesting is not successful, since the ground is so parched due to scanty rains. I am doing my bit , planting trees, educating the local communities, but practically, we are nowhere towards success. Please throw some light on what best I can do to help my fellow farmers in irrigation.


    1. Thanks a lot Geetha.

      Its good to hear from people who are tackling with ground issues like you.
      Indeed, there are no easy answers for the problems of Kolar and Chikaballapur and there may not be one solution which is applicable. It may be a mix of number of solutions like policy for curbing water intensive activities in the region, while encouraging revival of local harvesting systems like tanks which were once abundant in the region as well as on ground efforts like rainwater harvesting. If we look at past 100 years rainfall for this region, it has not dipped sharply. Regions with much lesser rainfall have been successful in being water secure.
      We just read this story from a neighboring region,you may have read this already:http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/battling-water-scarcity-borewell-recharge

      In this setting, schemes like Yettinahole Diversion are doubly problematic: they hinder the emergence of sustainable solutions from the region itself, while affecting a different region. Also, like we have said, Yettinahole Diversion project is more for urban and industrial areas than for Kolar or Chikkaballapur.

      Will also try and post some useful contacts, on this thread.
      warm regards,


    1. Sir,

      There is no certainty as yet as to who will get water, when, how much and if at all. There are lot of question mark of the project as yet. People of Dakshin Kannada district and Mangalore are against the project, we understand and the project has neither done any impact assessment, nor applied for or obtained any environment or forest clearances. People from the benefited zone are saying that there are better alternatives. So a lot of uncertainties.

      Himanshu Thakkar


  5. ground water fallen to 2000to 2500 feet, even drinking milk is mixed with poisonous floride in chikkaballapur and kolar region,drinking water is a kind of fundamental right as we are all indians,we share common country,common air why can“t common water,nothing is impossible,please think over it


  6. hi everyone..im sreddy from kolar. wtever the project might be, but it should affect the ecology, animals, forests etc. The project should be useful to both dakshina kannada districts as wel to kolar and chikkabalapura districts. Everyone is important.
    Being a farmer, i know the problems of farmers in kolar. Even we are not getting proper drinking water, everything filled with fluoride. Everyone is facing fluorosis.And if we come to agriculture, it is very worse. Even if we dig a bore well upto 1700ft ,we are not getting water.As our water table has gone deep, Definitely we need an alternative for water.
    Right now, we are giving water to mango trees by tankers.(one tanker, 5000 litres = Rs 800,very costly)Other wise, trees are getting dried completely.

    Few things that government and people should to get relief from these problems:
    1. Cut down all nilgiri trees(Eucalyptus ,switzerland origin) and plant indian tall trees and make a social forestry..which helps us to bring rain and there wil be fodder for animals.
    2.Government should ban the private bore wells, it should only to dig a bore well for drinking water, not for irrigation.(we dig 10 borewells for an half acre here)

    This is my opinion…….


    1. cutting down nilgiri trees is a good idea sir…since most of the lands in kolar is filled with nilgiris about 20% of water is getting drought due to nilgiris..govt shud make an step to reduce the growth of nilgiris!


  7. Dear Interested bloggers,
    Altitude of Kolar region from sea level is high compare to neighboring districts that is where practical problems of river irrigation faced. Better we as people of Kolar region should change mind set and think innovative way to find permanent solution to out water problems like,
    1) De-root all eucalyptus plants and trees in the region this is major damage causing thing to decline in annual rain fall.
    2) Re confiscate all natural water flow areas, water tanks and re server land. as we Know nearly 50% water body lands have been encroached in these 10 year due to less rain and not filling up the tanks.
    3) adopt a resolution to plant at all open lands of hills, tanks and reserver and insist all land owners to grow rain trees at least one per acre of their land.
    4) of course, smart people of Kolar region know how to grow crops with drip irrigation, continue the same and avoid all crops which take heavy watering like sugarcane, paddy craps etc,.
    ever loving and best wishing to my Kolar Region!
    Dr R V Praveena Gowda, ME, PhD,.
    Bangalore 560061


  8. @SANDRP, Its really a fine compilation . Thank you for sharing with us.
    Can you please share the complete paramashivaiah committee report in both english and kannada? It would be helpful for academic purposes.
    Thank you.


    1. Thanks a lot Mr. Chetan, very glad you liked it. Hope you saw our article on the new DPR as well. Unfortunately we do not have the Paramashivaiah Report. Perhaps Mr. Kishore Kumar Hongadhalla may have it.


  9. I feel the needs of the bayaluseeme region is urgent. It is question of life and death for them . The diversion of netravati is probably the only feasible solution. The people of Dakshina kannads are our brothers . They can come and see for themselves the agony and misery . I suggest all the leaders opposing the Yettinhole project should be taken for a 2 -3 days trip to the bayaluseeme areas and i am sure they will see for themselves . Can we see the Paramashivaih report . How can we access it ?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Obviously we dont have any solution , except diverting the rivers to kolar and chikkaballapura…almost 50 lakh people are suffering from flurosis, even we are not getting fluoride water to drink…. we are asking the government from past 30 years to link the rivers with out affecting ecology. Nowadays there is lot of advanced technology which can be used for better cause…


    1. Thanks Mr. Reddy. The average annual rainfall of Kolar is about 700 mm. In many parts of the country, cities thrive with about 500-600 mm rain. Is there a database of rainwater harvesting done in Kolar?
      While it is true that Kolar Chikkaballpur and also Northern parts of Karnataka are suffering from water stress, we need to be sure that all local options, including a saner cropping pattern is followed first. We appreciate that people from these regions do not want to harm the ecology and sociology of Dakshin Kannada, but that will be clear only if the govt. conducts an Environment Impact Assessment Study (EIA). But the Karnataka govt refuses to do that, despite the fact that it is a legal requirement. In fact work was started even without a Forest Clearance in Sakaleshpur. This is unacceptable.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ya obviously government should conduct EIA…otherwise how can they implement the project…ya database of rainwater harvesting is maintained in each taluk of all the districts, Average rainfall will be from 500 to 650mm. As kolar farmers produce very huge vegetables and fruits to Bengaluru and export to other states lik tamilnadu , kerala , maharashtra etc…Farmers need more water for their farms..Farmers hav exploited underground water completely from past 30years. Even we dig a borewell for 1500ft, we are not getting water..
        Sand Mafia is also the other reason..
        If government provide us with 40 TMC of water, its sufficient for 30 lakh people from both the districts,kolar and chikkabalapura..
        hope one day , we wil get it..


  11. for karnataka it is a must project.About 60 percent of water of karnataka is in the west flowing rivers.Even with diverting 10 percent of it with minimum effect on environment we can make the state one of the richest in india.


  12. respected sir
    I am Umesh .from koratagere near kolala
    sir I am fully confused because devarayana durga project is canceled .this project is sifted to near kolala

    so . this project full detail give me sir


  13. Personally, I am not for this kind of project, where we are challenging the nature rules . The problem in Kolar District can be solved by better water management and better farming methods. We have dried up natural flowing rivers like Vrishabavathi and now we plan to divert rivers. This is an ecological disaster. I also come to know that since there will be a big resistance from environmentalists for distraction of Devarayadurga forest, the Government is considering building the dam more further and submerging about 32 villages. The big question is that will enough water flow if we continue to create such ecological imbalance. What is the cost, financially and socially of destroying so many lives of villagers. Is this another large projects with vested interest from politicians to destroy mankind?


  14. Dear All in my village very less qty of water supplied by from our panchayat & 5 days once water supplied because of there is no water source in side the earth please try to under stand our problems we are also humans we are also living things we need water pls help us save our village peoples & animals..

    Yalachagere (Ramakarishna GR)
    Koratagere TQ


  15. I’m a civil Engineer and a farmer from Gauribidanur. I do agree we need a permanent solution for drinking and irrigation water but not at the cost of others lives. Western Ghats are a big gift to our nation, even a small kid knows that.
    For our Chickballapur and Kolar wedistrict, the other projects are advisable like Upper Bhadra or as the experts said rejuvenation of local rivers, streams, desilting tanks.
    I have farm of 9.5 acres with about 1000 bamboo, 200 Tamarind, 100 Teak, 120 chikkoo, 140 Rosewood, Bevu, Hebbevu, sandal wood, Brake, Nelli, the list will not stop, with a single borewell at a depth of 200 feet. We are getting water from past 18 years, its all because rain water harvesting with indigenous methods. Nothing is impossible.


    1. Many thanks, Somesh ji, pl let us know more about the location of your land and the work you have done for rainwater harvesting, including rainfall and so on.



      1. Thank you Himanshu ji for your response.
        My farm is located in Shambooka Nagar, near Gauribidanur town which is 75 Km from Bangalore.
        (between Gauribidanur and Chandanadur )
        It was a barren land which not level. I didn’t waste money in levelling and retained as it was.
        Initially I made the rain water to stop by putting waste cement bags
        filled with mud on the spot. Later big saucers were made to every plant so that they can hold sufficient rain water . Each saucer was holding more than 300 lts, every time it rains. I selected the species to suit our rainfall quantity. In our area the average rainfall may be 600-700 mm per year.


  16. Execution of Yettinaholey irrigation project has commenced; work is in progress, if not in full swing – may be due to monsoon; There have been widespread protests from people of Dakshin Kannada and environmentalists from Malnad, in the name of Save Western Ghats campaign. The Chief Minister has taken it as a matter of challenge to proceed with the project. Whether water flows through the pipes to the dstination or not, the benefactors are at great advantage – even if the project is dropped at this moment, on as-is-where is status. It is more a political requirement than drinking water for the drought hit Taluks!


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