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

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.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

25000

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

600

ha

Starting Year

2016

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

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

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Karnataka

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
X

Support our work

Your contribution ensures continuity of this crucial project.

As a member, you will get exclusive access to special reports, policy papers and research projects undertaken by Land Conflict Watch and behind-the-scenes interactions with the writers and researchers about their work.
Contribute Now