Monday, 31 March, 2008

Karnataka, TN lock horn over Hogenekal

B D Narayankar
Bangalore: After waging a battle against Kerala on Mullaperiyar water issue, Tamil Nadu has locked horn with Karnataka over Rs 13-billion Hogenekal water supply project.

Pro-Kannada activists in Bangalore went on a rampage attacking cinema halls screening Tamil films amidst tearing down posters after TN chief minister M Karunanidhi declared the intention of going ahead with the project at any cost.

Karnataka contends that Hogenekal belongs to it and the project will affect its interests.

Kannada Rakshana Vedike (KRV) will be organizing a meeting of various pro-Kannada groups, Kannada writers, representatives of Dalit organisations on Tuesday to decide on steps to intensify the agitation, particularly in the Cauvery belt of Mysore, Chamarajnagar and Mandya districts. The organization also will pressure Karnataka Governor Rameshwar Thakur to approach the Supreme Court against the project. “The project is detrimental to Karnataka’s interest,” spokesperson B Sanneerappa stated.

Among political parties in Karnataka, BJP has been the most vocal. Former chief minister B S Yediyurappa recebtly visited Hogenekal with other BJP members and said his party would oppose the project.

Meanwhile, in Hogenakkal village, situated 350 km from Chennai, flag-waving protestors of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) burnt effigies of Yediyurappa. They demanded the deployment of central paramilitary forces to “safeguard” their “interests”.

“The inflow of tourists - as important to our livelihood as the Cauvery water that descends here from the waterfalls - has seen a downturn due to the invasion by chauvinist (former) Karnataka chief minister (and his) attempt to usurp real estate rightfully belonging to Tamil Nadu,” said K. Rajesh, a VCK demonstrator.

“He (Yediyurappa) is trying to stop the water supply project that will quench parched throats in the districts of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. To safeguard our interests we demand deployment of central paramilitary forces here immediately. We will also stop all agent provocateurs coming here under disguise of tourists,” he added.

The foundation stone for the Rs.13.3 billion scheme, funded by Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), was laid by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Feb 26.

The Hogenakkal Water Supply and Fluorosis Mitigation Project is expected to cover 6,755 households in three municipal areas, 17 panchayats and 18 small towns, benefiting about three million people.

Safe drinking water would be provided from the waterfall to the fluoride-affected towns and villages in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts bordering Karnataka.

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