January 30, 2014
Dr. M. Veerappa Moily
Union Minister of Environment and Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi 110 003
Subject: Issues about the laying of Yettinahole Diversion Project’s foundation Stone
Respected Dr. Moily,
We learnt about your announcement and support for laying the foundation stone of the controversial Yettinahole Diversion Project on January 31, 2014 in your parliamentary constituency of Chikkaballapur, from several media reports[i]. The project has not conducted any impact assessment study and does not have any statutory clearance from your ministry. This is in complete violation of several norms and laws and is shocking, to say the least.
Dr. Moily, our assessments based on local interactions, site visits, study of the Project report (the DPR for the project is still not ready) indicate that the project involves eight dams inside the Western Ghats, deforestation of more than 100 ha of forests inside the Western Ghats eco-sensitive region, water diversion without any ecological studies, 370 MW of power for pumping, a canal of 250 kms length, 1200 ha submergence near Devaranyadurga including submergence of 2 villages and 600 ha forest land. [ii]
The foundation stone laying ceremony is supposed to take place on the 31st January 2014 at Muddenahalli, Chikkaballapur, which also happens to be your current constituency. It is clear why you chose Chikkaballapur to lay the foundation stone, and not Sakaleshpur, from where the water will be diverted, or Dakshin Kannada, which will face most of the impacts of the project. In Sakaleshpur and entire Dakshin Kannada, (which was your constituency in the past) there is a huge and mounting opposition to Yettinahole Diversion and also to your decision.
Just in the last two weeks, there have been attempts to a stop train in protest, numerous dharnas, hunger strikes, letters in opposition and a Satyagraha in Netravathi River to oppose this project.[iii]
Despite this growing discontent, you, as an MP from Chikkaballapur and the Union Environment Minister, or the Karnataka Government did not feel the need to initiate a dialogue with the people of this region. Has the government learnt no lessons from Delhi as to what happens when local voices are ignored and unheeded?
Why has the Karnataka Government or the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, which you now head, not thought it necessary to assess and address the serious ecological impacts of this project? Why have you supported the fraudulent tactics of this project to escape environmental clearance? Our letter to the Ministry in his regard dated 10 Sept 2013, which was endorsed by several experts remains unanswered till date[iv].
As the Minister of Environment and Forests, it is your duty to see that projects with significant impacts on ecology and dependent communities are assessed. Why are you escaping that duty?
Why is the Karnataka Government and the MoEF, under you leadership, hiding behind weak technical clauses of the EIA Notification 2006 to claim that the project does not qualify for Environment appraisal?
In fact the EIA Notification 2006 requires that there is thorough appraisal of the project. We have sent you a letter in this regard again on the 28th of January 2014, with scanned pages from the project report proving this.
How can you support foundation stone laying ceremony when RTI reveals that Forest Department has not even assessed the forest area affected by this project?
How can a Minister of Environment and Forests of India indulge in an illegal act of formal initiation of a project that does not have environmental or forest clearances?
The project will come to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, headed by you, for Forest Clearances. But you have supported the foundation stone for this project already, giving a signal that forest clearance is a foregone conclusion.
If this is not conflict of interest, what is?
And all this for 2.8 TMC drinking water for Kolar and Chikkaballpur Districts. Has the government conducted any studies to prove that project with Rs 100 Billion cost and severe environmental impacts is the least-cost option to get drinking water for Kolar and Chikkaballapur in whose name the project is being pushed?
Dr. Moily, as the Union Environment Minister, it is you duty to address these questions before you support the foundation stone laying of Yettinahole Diversion Project.
Not doing so is in violation of environmental norms and legal stipulations.
We are looking forward to getting a point-wise response from you.
Parineeta Dandekar, Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP, Pune and Delhi
Dr. T. V. Ramchandra, Energy and Wetlands Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka
Panduranga Hegde,Parisara Samrakshana Samithi, Appiko Movemenr, Sirsi, Karnataka
Dr. Shrinivas Badigere, Water and Irrigation Expert, Bangalore, Karnataka
Dr. Latha Anantha, River Research Center, Kerala
Dr. Rajeev Raghavan, South Asia Co-Chair, IUCN SSC/WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group
Member, IUCN SSC Red List Committee
Debi Goenka on behalf of Conservation Action Trust, Mumbai
Shankar Sharma, Power Policy Analyst, Tirthahalli, Karnataka
R. Sreedhar, Managing Trustee, Environics Trust and Chairpserson, Mines , Minerals and People
Vidyadhar Atkore, Fisheries Researcher, Bangalore, Karnataka
Neethi Mahesh, Mahseer Conservancy, Karnataka
Dr. Ashok Kundapur, Udupi, Karnataka
Anand Krishnamurthy, Bangalore, Karnataka
Dr. Nitya Ghotge, Anthra, Pune
Ms. Nyla Coelho on behalf of Paryavarni, Belgaum, Karnataka
Pratim Roy on behalf of Keystone Foundation, Kotagiri, Tamilnadu
Dr. Archana Godbole, Jayant Sarnaik, AERF, Pune
Dr. K. Amitha Bachan, Western Ghats Hornbill Foundation
Vijay Sambare, Lok Panchayat, Sangamner, Maharashtra
Dr. Bhaskar Acharya, Independent Researcher, Bangalore
Ramesh Gauns, Environmental Activist, Goa
Ramaswamy Selvam for Tamilnadu organic farmers federation, Arachalur,Erode.