Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru
Mangaluru, May 5: In what may come as a shocker to the Dakshina Kannada BJP, and particularyly to BJP MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his election rally in Tumakuru on Saturday May 5 openly supported the controversial Yettinahole project.
The Yettinahole project has been undertaken to supply drinking water to Tumakuru, Kolar and Chikkabalapur and other neighbouring districts. There has been massive opposition from the people in Dakshina Kannada, who feel that taking their precious water from Netravati river, the lifeline of the district, would be disaster not only to ecology but to their very survival. The project aims to lift 24 TMC ft of excess water flowing down into the sea from the Western Ghats during the rainy season.
Though a pet project of the Congress government, Yettinahole project had not become an election issue. The Sahyadri Sanchaya, an outfit fighting against the project, had said it would launch a NOTA campaign, but largely, it has had no impact on the elections in the coastal region despite all the opposition.
When the issue was at its peak, people in Dakshina Kannada were up in arms against the Congress government for going ahead with the project. Cashing in on the public sentiment, the district BJP, led by Nalin Kumar Kateel had openly opposed the project, targetting the state government for being 'anti-people'. Nalin Kumar Kateel had even gone on hunger strike (which lasted only for four hours), led a padayatra, and even sought CBI probe into the project, alleging that the project was a mere 'eyewash' to loot Rs 12,000 crore, and that there was no way the water would reach the parched districts of Kolar, Chikkaballapur and others. "The state government is going ahead with the project by sidelining concerns over the non-availability of water and damage to the eco-sensitive Western Ghats," he had said. He had even led a delegation of anti-Yettinahole project activists to meet union ministers to urge them to stop the project.
But on May 5, the district BJP was left red-faced as Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly demanded to know why the Yettinahole project was still not completed, blaming the Congress for 'procrastinating'.
"I want to ask the Congress leaders, why is the Yettinahole project, which was initiated to supply drinking water to the people of Tumakuru, is still pending in your hands? Why is it not on track?" Modi questioned.
This, when his own party's MP was the most vociferous voice against the same project!
Not just that, Modi went on to announce that his government would link the Netravati and the Hemavati rivers, in fulfilment of former PM Atal Bihari Vajapayee's 'dream' of implementing the river linking project.
It is quite ironic that just two days ago, Shashiraj Shetty Kolambe, convener of Netravati Samyukta Horatta Samiti, joined the BJP with hopes that if the BJP came to power in the state, it would review the project and may even drop it altogether.
The PM's statements have been met with criticism from people of Dakshina Kannada on social media. A Twitter user, responding to BJP's tweet on the subject said, "If you put your hands into our Netravati river, we will crush your party into pieces, beware!."
It is quite clear that the BJP would now be in a fix on how to go about the Yettinahole project. If it comes to power and implements PM Modi's promise, it would be betraying the aspirations of the very people whose shoulders it used to point the gun at Congress. If it sticks to its anti-Yettinahole project stand, it would be betraying its own party's Prime Minister. Talk of a catch-22 situation!