Sumalatha Ambareesh, Mandya MP, has reiterated her concern over the safety of Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir and called for the constitution of a task force to oversee its protection.
“I will continue to use the ‘Save KRS, Stop Illegal Mining’ hashtag till quarrying stops,” said Ms. Sumalatha. She visited the dam built across the river Cauvery in Srirangapatana taluk on Wednesday and interacted with officials of the dam authorities and Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd.
She told media persons there was lack of coordination among different departments as the dam engineers were focussed only on its structural stability and water management, while the police were engaged in routine security aspects.
“There was no single entity vested with the authority for the overall safety of the dam and hence, I will seek a coordinated task force comprising members of different departments who will meet regularly to review the overall safety of the dam,” said Ms. Sumalatha. She said issues related to quarrying was not within the purview of the Irrigation Department and the dam authorities while the police was concerned only with the presence of unauthorised persons. In reply to a question, Ms. Sumalatha said she had raised a larger issue of the overall safety of the dam and had not aired mere concerns over physical cracks which were repaired through grouting. “I am concerned about the long-term safety of the dam,” she added.
Hinting that she favoured for a quarry ban within 20 km radius of the KRS until the trial blasts were conducted for testing its impact, Ms. Sumalatha said she had spoken to Mining Minister Murugesh Nirani and even Mandya district in-charge Minister Narayana Gowda had recommended the blanket ban. Ms. Sumalatha said her concern for KRS dam was not a political ploy and was based on inputs and feedback provided by technical experts. “I raised the issue in Parliament in 2019 during a debate on the dam safety Bill,” she added.
She said it was strange that a person raising a concern for everybody’s good is being pilloried by vested interest groups who have put the safety of the dam in peril. “It is like the culprit calling the police thief,” she said, citing a Hindi proverb.
The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and farmers from Mandya expressed support to Ms. Sumalatha and were at the dam site during her visit. KRRS Mandya president Kempugowda said farmers have been raising their voice against quarrying since 20 years.
“KRRS former president late K.S. Puttanaiah raised the issue in the Assembly and fought against quarrying. As it was a genuine cause, farmers are supportive of Ms. Sumalatha,” said Mr. Kempugowda.