Medha Patkar opposes Mekedatu project, says it will harm environment

‘Government should shelve project in the interest of environment as well as stakeholders like the Adivasis’

Social activist Medha Patkar has expressed concern that the proposed Mekedatu balancing reservoir project could seriously affect bio-diversity as well as river Cauvery.

Ms. Patkar, who was in Bengaluru to take part in a programme organised by the Karnataka Nela Jala Parisara Rakshana Samithi on Friday, told a press conference that the Government should shelve the Mekedatu project in the interest of environment as well as stakeholders like the Adivasis (tribals).

She argued that along with environmental impact assessment, social impact assessment too was required to know how the proposed project would adversely impact tribals who are dependent on rivers and forest for their livelihood.

She appealed to Karnataka not to view the project from the prism of itsinter-State dispute between the neighbouring Tamil Nadu alone. There were bigger issues involved such as sustainability, she observed, while pointing out that bigger dams all over the worldhave been a cause of concern for environment, sustainability and bio-diversity.

She said all the big dam projects were leading to destruction of environment as well as rivers rather than helping people. She alleged that such big reservoir projects were always in favour of politicians, investors and contractors rather than common people and environment.

International financial institutions would be keen to extend financial support to such mega projects as part of the conspiracy to establish control over natural resources of the countries and to set the stage ready for changing the policies in their favour, she alleged.

Pointing out that the Karnataka Government was planning to bring water from Mekedatu to Bengaluru city, she wondered why the Government was not thinking of other environment-friendly possibilities like rejuvenation of tanks and rainwater harvesting.

Speaking on the occasion, Kannada cine actor Chetan alleged that Mekedatu project was nothing but a war by all the three major political parties in the State against environment. He also maintained that the project was in favour of contractors.

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