Netravathi River Diversion Project

Hundreds of streams and rivulets originate in the natural grasslands and forests of hill ranges of the Western Ghats. They flow westwards to form River Netravathi, the lifeline of Dakshina Kannada District. Millions of people living in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada rely on River Netravathi for their daily needs.

There is now a plan to divert the west flowing River Nethravathi to the East, which is seen by many as the doomsday project which would kill the very source of River Nethravathi. The Netravathi River Diversion Project has been widely criticized by the people of Dakshina Kannada and environmentalists across the nation, primarily for the damages the project would cause to the sensitive eco-system of the Western Ghats due to the Inter-basin transfer of river flow from West to East.

Retired Irrigation Engineer Dr. Paramashivaiah has envisaged the Nethravathi River Diversion Project by proposing several hundreds of kilometers of unlined open canal at mid-elevation of the Western Ghats slope running across the entire catchment area of River Nethravathi. Starting from Kabbinale, Naravi through Didipe, Charmadi, Neriya, Dharmasthala, Shishila, Shiradi and Bisle up to Kumaradhara near Subhramanya. Further, 38 reservoirs are proposed for storage of water in the slopes of the Western Ghats. Water so collected is proposed to be diverted at places where the ridgeline of the Ghats are lowest, at almost the level of the mid elevation canal like at Elaneeru and near Bisle.

Hundreds of roads need to be formed for the construction of the proposed project and for the maintenance of such open canals on steep slopes and thickly forested area of the Ghats. The state budget has already allocated Rs. 50 crores for the preparation of a detailed Project Report for Paramashivaiaha’s proposal to divert the West flowing River Netravathi to the East!

However, seeing the widespread opposition by the people of Dakshina Kannada District to the above project, the government quickly changed the project to ‘Yettinahole Diversion Project’. Yettinahole – one of the major tributaries of River Nethravathi originates in Sakleshpur Taluk, along the National Highway passing through Shiradi Ghats.

The Yettinahole is unfamiliar to the people of Dakshina Kannada District, both in terms of its name and location, due to which the ongoing campaign against Netravathi River Diversion got substantially diluted. Highly placed sources in the government have confirmed this will be the first of the tributaries to be diverted from the catchment of River Nethravathi there will be many more to follow.

Yettinahole Diversion Project proposes to have eight dams to the tributaries of Netravathi River such as at Yettinahole tributary-1, Yettinahole tributary 2, Yettinahole tributary 3, Kadumanehole 1, Kadumanehole 2, Keri hole, Hongada halla and at Yedakumeri.

The locations of the proposed dams obtained from the Project Report is overlaid on Google Earth to graphically depict the location of the dams and the project within the Catchment area of River Nethravathi. 100 kms of pipeline needs to be laid within the Western Ghat to implement this project with an estimated power requirement of 370MW of power to pump the water up the Ghats.