Western Ghats abuse is a poll issue


The Hindu

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 Environmentalists took out a week-long campaign against the Yettinahole or the Netravathi diversion project

Abuse of the Western Ghats has turned out to be an issue for the first time in an Assembly election in Dakshina Kannada where campaigning ended on Thursday.

Environmentalists took out a week-long campaign against the Yettinahole or the Netravathi diversion project, while the government called it an Integrated Drinking Water Project, highlighting all those activities (forest encroachment, hunting, increasing hydel power projects) have been damaging the fragile and eco sensitive Western Ghats to a large extent.

The activists under the banner of Sahyadri Sanchaya and the National Environment Care Federation encouraged the voters to exercise the None of the Above (NOTA) option in Saturday’s election stating that successive party candidates and the government have not taken the destruction of the Western Ghats seriously.
’All are worthless’

The activists, Dinesh Holla and Shashidhar Shetty, who led the campaign, said that people should exercise the NOTA option to register their protest against the on-going Yettinahole project and conserve the ghats from destructive activities.

Drawing the attention of the people through a small loudspeaker, while beating the “chende” and the “jaagate”, the activists hit the streets in the evenings in Mangaluru, Mangaluru City South, Mangaluru City North and Bantwal Assembly segments.

Mr. Holla said that a number of resorts coming up on the ghats by encroaching upon forest land, extension of farm estates, including the recent rambutan cultivation, hydel power projects and the roads leading to them have dried up the tributaries of the Netravathi. But none of the political parties — the Congress, the BJP, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the CPI(M) — facing the elections considered them seriously.

Mr. Holla said that the activists took up a NOTA campaign in the last Lok Sabha election in the district, which resulted in 7,500 such votes.

When it was scaled up to the last zilla panchayat elections in the district, 28,000 NOTA votes were cast, he said.

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