The Adivasis should be the first to stop a project from the government.
Medha Patkar, social activist, has expressed concern about the proposed Mekedatu balance reservoir project that could adversely affect river Cauvery’s bio-diversity.
Ms. Patkar, who was visiting Bengaluru to attend a programme by the Karnataka Nela Jala Parisara Rakshana Samithi, said at a press conference on Friday that the Government should abandon the Mekedatu Project in the interests of both the environment and stakeholders like the Adivasis.
She argued that in addition to environmental impact assessment, a social impact assessment was also required to determine how the proposed project would adversely affect tribals who rely on rivers and forests for their livelihood.
She appealed Karnataka to not view the project through the lens of the inter-State dispute it has with neighbouring Tamil Nadu. She pointed out that there were larger issues such as sustainability.
She stated that large dam projects are causing destruction of rivers and the environment, rather than helping people. She claimed that big reservoir projects were always in favor of contractors, investors, and politicians rather than the common people and the environment.
According to her, international financial institutions would be keen for financial support to such megaprojects as part a conspiracy to take control of the country’s natural resources and set the stage for influencing their policies.
She pointed out that the Karnataka Government was planning on bringing water from Mekedatu into Bengaluru city. She wondered why the Government wasn’t considering other environmentally-friendly options like rainwater harvesting and rejuvenation tanks.
Chetan, a Kannada cine actor, claimed that Mekedatu was nothing but a war between all three major political parties of the State against the environment. He also maintained that contractors were the beneficiaries of the project.