Coffee Farmers' Compensation Demand, Refusal to Sell Land Halts Karnataka's Yettinahole Project

Reported by

Elizabeth ManiLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

February 1, 2021

Location of Conflict

Sakleshpur

Chikkaballapur, Ramanagara, Kolar and Bengaluru Rural.

Hassan

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Water Management

Environmental/Ecological Damage

(

Eco-Sensitive Zone

)

People Affected by Conflict

337

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

600

ha

Starting Year

2016

State

Karnataka

Sector

Infrastructure

The Yettinahole Integrated Drinking Water Project, one of the flagship projects of Krishna Neeravari Nigam Ltd, was conceived to transfer water from the Nethravati river in Hassan District to address low water levels and provide drinking water in the drought-prone districts of Chikkaballapur, Ramanagara, Kolar and Bengaluru Rural. When the state government began the land acquisition for the project, local people and environmentalists demanded a public notification and hearing of objections as well as a social and environmental impact assessment. But these did not take place as work had already begun. On September 22, 2016, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, directed the state to take prior mandatory forest clearance (FC) from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as per Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The FC was allowed under the condition that the project proponent may do an ecological assessment after the completion of the project. The FC itself was challenged as being void for illegality and arbitrariness, and relief was asked for by the petitioner, K.N. Somashekhar, against the implementation of the project in two separate appeals before the Southern Bench of the NGT. These appeals were transferred to the Principal Bench on July 5, 2016, which dismissed them on October 5, 2017 without citing reasons. The appeal was again taken up for hearing in 2018, but the judgement was not pronounced. It was listed before another bench of the NGT, chaired by Justice A.K. Goel, which finally gave its judgment on May 24, 2019. The Tribunal dismissed the appeals, saying they lacked merit as the appellants could not furnish proof to validate the setting aside of the sanction given for the project. It also cited a 2015 draft notification issued on the basis of the Kasturirangan Report on Western Ghats, which did not prohibit drinking water projects. Therefore, it was not necessary under the law that a scientific environmental impact study be conducted, the Bench concluded. The coffee plantation farmers, meanwhile, are unhappy with the land price fixed by the district committee and have refused to part with their land. The district committee announced the prices for 483 acres of land in 22 villages of Sakleshpur tehsil in Hasan district, fixing the land acquisition price at INR 15-20 lakh per acre. The landowners were given a month's time to file objections, if any. Farmers claim that land under coffee cultivation costs high compared to dry land, which is why they had objected to the price fixed by the committee. After a few protests, the government agreed to directly purchase land from the coffee growers at INR 25-30 lakh per acre, but more than 35 farmers are still waiting for their compensation. The Hassan Planters' Association has been helping them find a job to make ends meet. P.P. Sunder, one of the farmers who did not receive compensation, told LCW that those who received the money had to bribe the government to get what was promised to them. Meanwhile, the state, in its state budgetary allocation for 2020-2021, allocated another INR 1,500 crore for the Yettinahole project. This move has reiginited opposition amongst activists against the project who have questioned its usefulness, especially backed by their claim that there is no surplus water available in the region to divert it towards potable use. Additionally, they also suggest that the blasting activities in the catchment areas of the project - namely in Kadagarahalli, Hiradanahalli, Hebbasale, Heggade and Maranahalli - have already had a major impact on the eco-sensitive areas of the Western Ghats and have urged a rethinking of the project immediately.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for more compensation than promised, Complaint against procedural violations, Refusal to give up land for the project

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

25000

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone & Principal Bench), Supreme Court of India

Case Number

Original Application No. 303 of 2014, Original Application No. 393 & 394 of 2016, Appeal No. 54 (NGT) and Civil Appeal No. 6702 of 2019 (SC)

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Campaigns (Grassroots organisations/press releases/media), Protests/marches, Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Karnataka

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Elizabeth Mani

Reviewed By

Elizabeth Mani

Updated By

Elizabeth Mani

Edited By

Elizabeth ManiLand Conflict Watch
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