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Minister promises help for Netravathi scheme

T.S. Ranganna

It envisages providing water for drinking and irrigation in 72 taluks of seven districts in Karnataka


Funds can be arranged from World Bank

and NABARD: Union Minister

Centre ready to release one lakh tonnes

of fertilizer to State




K.H. Muniyappa

BANGALORE: Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa has said that he has assured Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa of assistance, if the State Government takes up the Netravathi diversion scheme for irrigation and providing drinking water to 72 taluks of Kolar, Tumkur, Bangalore Rural, Chickaballapur, Mandya, Hassan and Chitradurga districts.

Speaking to The Hindu on Sunday, the Minister, who held a meeting with Mr. Yeddyurappa on Saturday, said that nearly 2,000 tmcft of water was going waste into the Arabian Sea from the river, and of this at least 500 tmcft could be diverted.

Mr. Yeddyurappa had expressed full support to the irrigation-cum-drinking water project, the Minister said.

Mr. Muniyappa has been elected from Kolar district, one of the dry regions in the State.

The water-table has depleted to as low as 1,000 ft, and thousands of borewells have become defunct over the last several decades.

Water in these seven districts contain fluoride and is not potable. Thousands of villagers are facing health problems, and perhaps the worst affected is Bagepalli taluk.

The Minister pointed out that obtaining funds should not be a problem, and the Union Government would help the State in getting loans from the World Bank and NABARD.

Farmers’ plea

Meanwhile, farmers in Chintamani in Kolar district at a meeting urged the Centre and the State Government to implement the Netravathi project.

On the opposition to the scheme by people of the coastal districts and legislators from that region, Mr. Muniyappa said it was for the Government to convince them.

As only one-fourth of the available water in the river would be utilised for providing drinking water in the most backward taluks, he hoped there would not be much opposition to the plan.

He said Mr. Yeddyurappa had agreed to release more funds for completing the survey, which had been entrusted to the National Remote Sensing Agency. The State Government had released Rs. 4 crore out of an estimated cost of Rs. 15 crore, which had now escalated to Rs.23 crore.

Fertilizer

On the supply of fertilizer, Mr. Muniyappa said he and Union Labour and Employment Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge had discussed the issue with Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers M.K. Azhagiri, and that the Centre was ready to release one lakh tonnes of fertilizer to the State.

The rakes to transport the fertilizer would also be provided on priority, the Minister added.

Trains

Mr. Muniyappa said that the Yeshwantpur-Mysore Express, the Bangalore-Mangalore day train and the Bangalore-Shimoga Inter-city express would be introduced soon.

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